Lyn Thomas Impact Medal

The Lyn Thomas Impact Medal is awarded annually for the academic OR research which best demonstrates both novelty and real-world impact, backed up by evidence. Impact can be of many forms including societal, economic, cultural, entertainment, health related, political, quality of life, etc.

The underpinning research should have been undertaken in the previous ten years and the impact itself must be demonstrable within the past two years. All academic researchers who are members of the Society and work at UK universities are eligible to enter.

The deadline for entries is 31 July and should be submitted to [email protected]

Professor Lyn Thomas

Professor Lyn Thomas

2022 Winners

Professor Navonil Mustafee, Emeritus Professor John H. Powell, Dr Alison Harper, Professor Todd R Kaplan, Professor Surajeet Chakravarty, Susan Martin and Andrew Fordyce.

A digital platform to reduce A&E peak time demand across the South West of England. 

This is a joint team from University of Exeter Business School and South Devon and Torbay NHS Foundation Trust.

NHSQuicker is an app that provides live waiting time data from hospital Emergency Departments and Minor Injury Units, and estimated travel times (by various modes of transport) based on the user’s location. It also provides information on alternative local health services like GPs and pharmacies. The aim is to help patients make informed decisions on where to go for urgent medical treatment in real time, using a ‘nudge’ type approach; for example, if people can see the waiting time in A&E is very long they may decide to go elsewhere, even if it is further away. 

There are two strands of underpinning research: technical and behavioural. The researchers worked with NHS technical teams (IT systems engineers and database administrators) to develop an open data standard based on linked administrative data.  Today the app receives real-time data from nine A&E departments, 18 Minor Injury Units and 12 urgent care centres across the south west of England. The behavioural research tested people’s decision processes and preferences when seeking medical care, based on the level of information provided.

The app is now available to 1.7 million people, with over 40,000 people actively using it. It runs on both Android and iOS. It has led to shorter waiting times and improved patient experience, enabling patients to make more appropriate choices of where to go, and has smoothed demand on overstretched Emergency Departments. A hospital Trust director said: “NHSQuicker has impacted significantly upon the pressures faced by the A&E departments at both the Royal Devon & Exeter and the North Devon Hospital. There has been a significant shift from the start of 2018 in the pattern of attendances, with a reduction in Emergency Department attendances and an increase in Minor Injury Unit attendances. This has led to better services for the patient and led to reduction of overcrowding in the Emergency Department.’ 

NHSQuicker has been featured on the BBC’s Spotlight programme and on ITV News South West. It was also a finalist for the 2018 Health Service Journal awards in the category “Enhancing Care by Sharing Data and Information’. Future work will be focused on scaling up the use of the app from a regional to a national setting.

Lyn Thomas Medal Winners

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