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NHS Healthcare Trust: choosing clinic location by travel time

A regional Healthcare Trust provides emergency and non-emergency services to the residents across one, or often several counties. In addition to the in-patient services provided at core hospital facilities, they also need to offer a range of outpatient and diagnostic services across their region. One such NHS Healthcare Trust approached us to assist them in a project to intelligently plan the location of these outpatient clinics.

The challenge:

The Healthcare Trust came to us to help them to calculate the travel time by road from all postcodes they service to 15 separate hospital locations. The results of this data would be used to plan the locations of outpatient clinics to allow them to best serve their local community.

Even when working within the area of just one NHS Healthcare Trust, with a small number of fixed destinations, the number of individual postcodes involved in the calculations would be immense (see our postcode to postcode blog for the full mind-boggling statistics). This ruled out working at individual postcode level, but still required a good level of detail to be worthwhile.

The solution:

After discussing the project with the Trust, we agreed that a subset of our TimeTravel data would be perfect for their requirements. The benefit of this data is that by working to a postcode sector level it offers almost the accuracy of full postcode matching but with manageable data calculations and data lines, making the process far simpler and timely. The journey time and distance data is also modular, meaning that we could provide just the data for the area required. This offered the best possible value to the Trust as they only needed to pay for the data they needed.

NHS consultation overlaid onto a heat map.
The diversity of patients and symptoms are matched by the variety of journeys that these patients must take to get to a consultation. It is a challenge to allow for all of these possible variables.

The Trust sent us a list of their sites and we generated the travel time data for them. For this kind of one-off, short-term project we often recommend using our consultancy services to save the client unnecessary investments in staff time, training, and software. If the project then turns into an ongoing requirement, the client has the option of asking us to regenerate the data at a reduced cost, or purchase the data, allowing them to constantly monitor outpatient travel times themselves.

The result:

When we caught up with the Trust three months after the original project, they had also used the data across several other projects. Knowing the travel time to each of their sites has proven very beneficial to the Healthcare Trust, adding value that was not expected when the original project was first briefed.

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