East Midlands Ambulance Service saves £40m and 116,000 ambulance journeys a year with Odyssey

Software has enabled 16% of calls to be responded to with appropriate telephone advice

East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) is saving £40m and 116,000 unnecessary ambulance journeys a year by using clinical support system Odyssey from Advanced Health & Care (Advanced) to manage 999 calls.

The software has enabled 16% of the 2,000 daily emergency calls received to be responded to with appropriate telephone advice – saving 320 ambulance journeys every day.

EMAS is celebrating 10 years of using Odyssey, which uses an algorithm based on the patient’s response to questions to guide clinicians to provide the right treatment.

Following the success experienced the service is set to go live with Adastra, a patient management system also from Advanced, to further increase the number of calls that can be responded to without an ambulance. Adastra will integrate with Odyssey to provide clinicians answering emergency calls with automatic access to NHS Spine services such as the Summary Care Record and Medical Interoperability Gateway.

The ambulance service was the first in the country to use nurses to respond to non-emergency 999 calls in 2003. The aim was to tackle the rising number of calls at a time when an ambulance was being dispatched for every call. The demand for the ambulance service has gone up by around 6% year on year over the past decade, without an equivalent increase in funding.

Following a successful pilot of the scheme, EMAS implemented Odyssey to provide governance and support for clinicians to provide self care or direct the patient to the right service. This keeps ambulances free for those in serious or life-threatening situations.

Neil Spencer, service improvement manager at EMAS, said: “Advanced’s software has made a huge impact, enabling us to boost performance dramatically by increasing efficiency. Without it we would not be able to save the amount of lives we are saving because we would have vehicles tied up on non-emergency calls.

“It also means that non-emergency patients receive the best service possible with accurate and safe telephone advice for self care or by signposting them to a more-appropriate and convenient care pathway.”

When Adastra is implemented calls will be automatically passed from the Computer Aided Dispatch system into Adastra where information held by NHS Spine services, such as medication and care pathways, will be automatically presented. Odyssey can then be used to support the clinical decision.

Spencer said: “Accessing all the Spine services individually can be time-consuming and inefficient as it means logging in and out of each service’s website. With seamless access to those services clinicians will have all the information they need at their fingertips, allowing them to quickly complete a thorough, accurate assessment of the patient and provide a tailored response.

“Implementing Adastra will allow us to build on the good work we have already done through Odyssey. Without the software more patients would be unnecessarily taken to hospital, which is not good for them or for the wider NHS. Crucially, it also means that we can keep our ambulances free for when they are most needed, which is how we can keep saving lives.”

EMAS receives a 999 call approximately every 45 seconds. The service employs 2,700 staff and supports 4.8 million residents across Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Northamptonshire and Lincolnshire.

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