Tower Hamlets Primary Care Trust (PCT) is a health administrative unit in London made up of 250 nurses, midwives, therapists, doctors and public health staff, and works with more than 158 General Practitioners (GPs) in 38 practices as well as the Royal London Hospital.

The Business Challenge

Tower Hamlets PCT was experiencing overwhelming pressure at the hospital’s emergency department through patients presenting with symptoms of minor ailments such as headache, diarrhoea, vomiting, and earache. Such symptoms are normally best managed through the local network of GPs and pharmacies.

Pressure on the emergency department had to be reduced – from the perspectives of both resource and financial management. In order to do this, Tower Hamlets PCT needed to understand why patients were opting for the hospital rather than their GP, and then inform potential patients of the most appropriate options for medical attention.

The Solution

Origins identified the cultural backgrounds of over 200,000 emergency department attendances. Indexing the results against the cultural profile of the PCT area, it was found that several different groups were overrepresented. In particular, people aged 20 to 30 of Bangladeshi background were found to be much more prone to repeat visits to the hospital than any other group.

Origins cultural analysis provided the evidence-base to justify and guide further qualitative
Research which revealed that people from a Bangladeshi background lacked confidence in the services provided by the local GPs. Driven by a culturally-derived fear of the consequences of poor health, and a discomfort with the informal approach and attire of GPs, people from this group resorted to hospital attendance.

Dr Foster Intelligence, a public-private partnership organisation that aims to improve healthcare quality and efficiency, developed and executed an intervention campaign called Local Heroes on behalf of Tower Hamlets PCT. The large-scale, highly-targeted campaign used key communication messages emphasising the viability, success and better service experience available through local GPs and pharmacies.

The Benefits

Using Origins as the basis of the campaign proved to be highly successful. Results included:

  • A 6.4% year-on-year reduction in emergency attendance at the Royal London Hospital
  • A notable change in community behaviour resulting in an increase in GP appointments and attendance – by as much as 8% and 16% at two GP surgeries
  • A dramatic reduction in operating costs of the A&E services based on reduced patient visits, a saving of up to £100 per visit
  • Cost savings could be applied to the improvement of GP accessibility, a benefit for the entire community

With the success of the campaign, Tower Hamlets PCT is now considering the use of Origins cultural analysis solution in a further ten initiatives.