Business Case Study

Provide CIC

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Business context

Provide is a Community Interest Company, or social enterprise, delivering a wide range of health and social care services across Essex, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Norfolk.

Provide aims to maintain a strong R&D presence in the health and social care sectors, working in partnership with other organisations to improve clinical research across the UK.

As part of its commitment to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of community and primary health care services, the company identified ways in which advancements in Artificial Intelligence technology could provide novel solutions to help ease the increasing financial burden on the NHS.

Provide’s ultimate aim was to ensure that clinicians had more time to spend with patients in need, and that those patients were seen at the right time, by the right person, based on their condition.


Research solution

Provide partnered with Essex academics for their world-leading research and expertise in data science. The Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) was established to improve the efficiency of the triaging process by creating a decision-making engine, powered by AI and Natural Language Processing, which could identify the type of service patients needed and then guide them to the required level of support.

The project also involved academics from the Department of Psychology at Essex, who offered a deeper understanding of potential barriers to the use of new technology, helping to encourage clinicians to trust and embrace it as an effective tool to improve service delivery.

Business value

As part of the partnership, the AI Triage software – the Smart Referral System – has been developed and implemented for automated triaging of patients with musculoskeletal conditions.

The newly developed AI tool has been a huge success, reducing delays in information gathering and the number of incomplete referrals, easing triage time, increasing flexibility, providing new functionalities for risk assessment and sign-posting, offering a symptom checker, and providing low-risk patients with self-help options.

The wider impact of this software on the NHS could be significant, as it could eventually be rolled out to many other services and areas.

In addition to the KTP, the project team also worked on a Bed Bureau app, an idea born during the pandemic. Hospital bed management was already a challenge even before it was exacerbated by Covid-19. The Bed Bureau app has a live dashboard displaying bed availability in red (fully booked), amber (up to 50% available), and green (over 50% available).

See why Dr Dheeraj Rathee won Best Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Associate at our KTP Award Ceremony 2021

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Innovate UK funding

Essex has successfully secured more Innovate UK KTP funding than any other university in the East of England or London (and we're number 1 in the UK). You could access around £150k through this program or equally partner with us on a Smart grant and secure up to £3m to work with a consortia on your project. Essex will lead the entire process and have a sector-leading track record at winning this funding. All projects are commercially driven and underpinned by world class research from Essex.

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