Ahmed Shahrabani talks about how the Shift Popularity Index, an AI-driven tool, revolutionises healthcare staffing for NHS trusts, offering accurate predictions, cost savings, and improved staff allocation

In the realm of healthcare staffing, having the ability to predict the future is a game-changer. At Locum’s Nest, we’ve been working with dozens of NHS partner trusts for the past seven years. Our technology solutions, used by over 60,000 healthcare professionals, allow NHS organisations to effectively manage their contingent workforce, vacant shifts, and the enormous budgets that come with them. Today, this has provided us with a massive dataset of over 12 billion data points that we use to better manage the dynamics of workforce management.

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This big data set allows us to identify patterns that influence whether a vacant shift advertised by an NHS trust will eventually be filled by a worker or not. We achieve this through algorithms which we’ve developed from the ground up: The Shift Popularity Index. Our AI tool allows us to predict with accuracy how likely, or unlikely, a shift is to get filled.

That in turn allows us to adjust a shift’s attributes i.e. provide more information on the shift, adjust the pay rate, modify the start time slightly and know, with accuracy, the effects these adjustments are going to have on the likelihood of finding a worker for the shift. It also enables trusts to achieve savings without compromising safety. According to our data set, a very high proportion of rate escalations could be avoided without compromising the likelihood of filling the shift.

The SPI tool is available for NHS leaders and their immediately deputised teams to use. We’re proud to announce that we’ve now partnered with our first cohort of trusts to deploy this, each of which is forecasted to save an average of £1.1m per annum.

So what impact does SPI have on partner trusts?

  1. Reduce reliance and spend on agency

By providing the trust with accurate information on the likelihood of filling a shift with a bank worker, the SPI platform better identifies shifts that do not need to be cascaded to agencies, thereby saving on the agency commission and inflated rates.

  1. Financial savings and resource reallocation based on need

Using the SPI platform, one is able to redirect the trust’s limited financial resources to areas where they are most likely to have an impact on staffing levels. The data tells us that for the vast majority of NHS trusts, a large proportion of shifts are escalated unnecessarily. Understanding where rate escalations would have the biggest impact in terms of increasing the likelihood of filling shifts would allow NHS trusts to reallocate resources whilst optimising staffing levels.

  1. Improved bank shift fill-rates

The SPI tool in coordination with the Locum’s Nest data insights specialist team, will be able to point out factors beyond rates which may increase the shift’s likelihood of getting filled - such as more detailed information about the shift in question. This will lead to increased fill rates without the added cost of shift escalations.

  1. Waiting list improvement

SPI intelligence can support chief medical officers and their respective teams to analyse areas where there are significant waiting lists. We can use the SPI platform to improve the chance of filling shifts such as weekend theatre lists, outpatient clinics and others that will undoubtedly lead to a decrease in waiting lists.

Given the current pressure facing the NHS, it is paramount to future-proof our current models of care to deliver the best, equitable, sustainable, and consistent care for our patients whilst maintaining and growing a thriving workforce. The SPI tool is an advanced element of Locum’s Nest with the potential to make an impact at a trust-wide scale. It is a tool that allows us to maintain and even improve staffing levels whilst simultaneously delivering the much-needed savings to reduce financial pressures on trusts, by optimising how we allocate current resources.

We’ve currently partnered with our first cohort of trusts to deploy this and are now in the position of searching for the second cohort. If you’re interested in learning more, contact me directly at ahmed@locumsnest.co.uk