Data analytics global hackathon: helping Ambulance Victoria deliver faster care

Data analytics hackathon: helping Ambulance Victoria

When it comes to saving lives, every insight counts, so KPMG reached out to its international network to dive into the data and find the most innovative, effective and sustainable solutions to help Ambulance Victoria be on the front foot.


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Client challenge

Ambulance Victoria’s (AV) mission is to deliver outstanding emergency health care by getting the right response to the patient in the right time. It serves the entire State of Victoria in Australia, providing emergency medical response to more than 5.8 million people in an area of more than 227,000 square kilometres (a space larger than Great Britain).

AV has a unique challenge – it is one of the few ambulance services in the world that must report key metrics such as clinical patient outcomes, as well as operational performance, to government.

Before AV approached KPMG, it was already meeting or exceeding many of these required key performance indicators (KPIs). However, with patient demand, complexity of care requirements, the amount and sources of patient data, and public expectations rising, it needed to find ways to continually improve its performance.

“We're chasing a 5 percentage point improvement in response time performance through more efficient use of our resources. It's much harder to get this 5 percent than to get the preceding 15 percent. And that's not well appreciated by many people, but it was appreciated by the KPMG team.”

Colin Jones
Manager of Emergency Operations, Ambulance Victoria

AV’s model for distributing performance analytics and reports is changing to be more insightful for paramedics and for management, to better understand when performance was outside the norm and what the root causes of issues were. This also informs leadership as to future demands and outcomes.

In short – AV needed to improve its performance reporting and data analytics skills, processes and systems to find that hard to get 5 percentage point improvement.

The project

AV engaged a KPMG team made up of experts in Data and Analytics (D&A), People and Change and Health, Ageing and Human Services. The goal was to lift AV’s internal D&A capabilities and embed lasting organisational change to improve performance in key areas – such as responding quickly to emergency calls, providing the best clinical care, and taking patients to the most appropriate hospital.

Achieving this involved improving the way AV analysed and used existing data to create meaningful, actionable insights to save lives.

Along with many other data challenges, AV wanted KPMG’s help to solve two particularly complex problems:

  • The need to predict short term ambulance demand by geographic area (based on a range of internal and external signals).
  • Once the patient has been met at the scene, the need for a tool that offered an instant suggestion of the best hospital to take the patient to – considering drive time, hospital congestion, clinical requirements etc.
  • To help solve these challenges, the KPMG team knew that a unique approach to innovation was needed. The team decided to go global – reaching out to KPMG’s international D&A network to leverage the deepest experience and insights possible.

Soon, KPMG’s first ever ‘global hackathon’ was in motion.

Client results

Seventeen teams from 12 countries across five continents, with around five D&A specialists per team jumped at the opportunity to propose the right solution. Each team was provided a massive data set which included anonymised details of every Ambulance response for the past two years plus detailed weather station readings, demographic information, hospital specialisations and more.

In just 4 days, the hackathon delivered 17 new ideas, many of which were ready-made solutions levering big data platforms and Artificial Intelligence systems (including Facebook’s open source AI platform) to recognise patterns in traffic, hospital activity and more. An example included a working app that suggested the best hospital to deliver the patient to, based on previous hospitalisations, the patient’s private health insurance records, the road distance, traffic times, predicted hospital wait times for that patient, clinical symptoms, available hospital specialties and patient history.

“What a fantastic and unique opportunity it has been to work with KPMG on this global hackathon. I was really impressed to see the calibre of responses from all over the world, using our data to help us tackle challenges from predicting when and where new ambulance demand is going to be, to getting patients to the right hospital first time, as quickly as possible.

“It was amazing to see how in just four days, members of KPMG’s Global Data Analytics network were able to pick up our data, understand our challenges, and build highly relevant, working solutions to solve critical problems. These solutions could ultimately help us shave critical minutes off our case times, improving the clinical outcomes for Victorians by providing timely, life-saving care when they need it most.”

Mick Stephenson
Executive Director of Emergency Operations, Ambulance Victoria

The hackathon revealed a broad range of opportunities to dig deeper into AV’s existing data, to create service improvements and solutions to challenges beyond the two core issues proposed.

In addition to the hackathon, the 2-year project has so far:

  • Delivered a suite of critical exception and benchmark reports to provide response time insights at a group, team and paramedic level. 
  • Embedded a change and communications strategy that was central to development and execution, ensuring that the right people are ready, willing and able, to embed and drive sustainable change.
  • Developed and executing against an analytics gap analysis and roadmap for future improvement to uplift the maturity of AV’s implementation and use of D&A.
  • Enhanced the quality, management and governance of enterprise operational data.
    Established a group of change champions on the ground, who train their peers, test reports in development, and support the uptake and application of reports throughout the organisation.
  • Developed a framework for and undertook analytical ‘deep dives’ with AV and KPMG data scientists, conducting a short and sharp two week intensive modelling and root cause analytics using machine learning to help AV understand the underlying drivers of performance to suggest improvements in operational process.
  • Action-focused training modules, ‘train the trainer’ sessions, change and communication strategies and videos to help translate the new reports into actual change.

Adviser insights

As a result of the hackathon, the KPMG team not only helped AV leverage its data for better outcomes, but also gained many more insights that will benefit future client engagements.

See the art of the possible
The hackathon showed what can be achieved with existing data sets by applying machine learning and Artificial Intelligence to predict ambulance demand and support decision making. While it is critical to establish the key building blocks for enhanced analytics, showing ‘the art of the possible’ is an important step in painting a picture of the future state for enhanced analytics.

Global expertise made tangible
The hackathon showed how knowledge across the world can be shared, consolidated and built upon – leading to meaningful insights and solutions for clients.

The best solutions are tailored solutions
The KPMG team worked closely with AV to ensure that any solution was appropriate to their needs. For example, the Executive Director of Emergency Operations was on the hackathon judging panel, shortlisting potential winners of teams that delivered most value. The teams tested their thinking with paramedics throughout the whole development process.

KPMG Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we operate, live and gather as employees, and recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community. We pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.

©2022 KPMG, an Australian partnership and a member firm of the KPMG global organisation of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Limited, a private English company limited by guarantee. All rights reserved. The KPMG name and logo are trademarks used under license by the independent member firms of the KPMG global organisation.

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