A head and shoulders shot of Edge Hill University's Dr Marcello Trovati who is working to cut A&E waiting times

A computer science expert at Edge Hill University is carrying out innovative research to reduce patient waiting times at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.  

The research – a joint collaborative project between the university and the hospital – is led by a Reader in Computer Science, Dr Marcello Trovati, and aims to provide an accurate prediction of A&E attendance to better enable the hospital to manage resources.

He said: “A&E departments are a vital component of the NHS, which, like many other areas, face challenges including rising demand, levels of crowding and the availability of inpatient beds.

“By predicting when people are going to attend A&E, it allows the hospital to pre-empt the demand and better manage their resources, all in all, making a patient’s journey a lot smoother.”

Dr Trovati is carrying out the research with PhD student in Computer Science Jeffrey Ray, by collecting and analysing open source data from social media, blogs and web feeds.  

They can develop specific algorithms from the data to get an insight into what people will do. Twinned with alerts from traffic and event sources, the predictions will allow the hospital to put in place pre-emptive measures to better manage their resources to improve waiting times.

He added: “People add real-time information on social media, blogs and other platforms that become valuable data sources to us due to the continuous sharing of opinions and facts.

“What we’re doing is completely non-invasive and doesn’t rely on people actively participating in the study, but we are able to see whether people are particularly worried about something specific by carrying out sentiment analysis, which in turn helps us to identify key trends that will impact on attendance.”

Dr Trovati, who has previously used social media data collection to detect and assess online criminal and fraudulent activities, will present the findings to the hospital, matching the data with real attendance figures.

Alder Hey’s Simon Minford, Advanced Nurse Practitioner, said:

“Alder Hey see over 330,000 children and families a year with over 60,000 children being seen by our busy A&E department. We are keen to work alongside our university partners such as Edge Hill University and we are looking forward to the results of this study and hopeful it can be used to help reduce waiting times here at Alder Hey.”