AN INNOVATIVE software program that monitors deaths at St George’s Hospital, London has scooped a top prize at the health service equivalent of the Hollywood Oscars.

The computer system and the team who created it won second prize in the category of Improvement in Performance Management at the annual Health Service Journal Awards on Monday night (15 November).

More than 1,100 projects entered the awards this year.

The program, which was developed by statistics expert Dr Jan Poloniecki and Professor of Respiratory Medicine Paul Jones, tracks and analyses deaths across 30 clinical specialties at the hospital.

Although mortality is seen as a key indicator of the quality of treatment given by a hospital, only a handful of institutions in the world take the time to monitor deaths in such detail.

The software was highly commended by the award judges who praised the program for its ‘intellectual quality and bravery.’

They went on to add that the work of the team deserved ‘wider application within the NHS.’

The software compares recent deaths with mortality figures collected over the last five years.

Whenever the number of deaths rises or falls unexpectedly, the software triggers an alert which prompts a clinical investigative team to probe its possible causes.

The team’s success drew praise from the hospital’s chief executive Peter Homa, who said:

“The mortality surveillance program is as innovative as it is enterprising.

“Without the program and the combined talents of Professor Jones and Dr Poloniecki, the hospital would to a large extent be flying blind when it comes to this incredibly important aspect of patient care.

“As a result, we know a great deal more than most hospitals about why deaths occur and when there is a problem with patient care that we need to fix.

“The team is a credit to St George’s and its work is a fine example of the culture of innovation that thrives at this hospital which I hope will continue long into the future.”