Reflections on 2021

Written by:
Matthew Tod

The big question: Did we make progress in 2021?

The question any not-for-profit organisation needs to ask is did it make progress towards achieving its purpose, so here goes...

Our goal in 2021 was to develop and evolve process mining techniques that could help the NHS accelerate patient flow and reduce the backlog to minimise patient suffering.

We aimed to:

  • Create demos to show the 'art of the possible' with process mining
  • Find people to collaborate with to prove process mining works for healthcare
  • Build an engine that can can amplify the impact of our work to accelerate scaling so everybody can benefit sooner

So what did we achieve?

Process mining in the NHS

We worked out how to apply process mining to the NHS in four key areas:

  • Insight into patient flow and processes
  • Flow optimisation to accelerate patient flow
  • Forecasting future backlog
  • Operational management of patients

We completed an NHSE proof of concept project to demonstrate all the above.

Understanding the impact of non-conformance

We developed demos of process mining using real data for:

  • Outpatient clinic flow optimisation
  • Diagnostic centre patient flow
  • D2A (Discharge to Assess) process

We initiated development of additional clinical areas:

  • Cancer pathways
  • Mental health pathways
  • Population health patient flow
Colorectal Cancer pathway

We started, or agreed to start, process mining projects at national and local level

  • National projects:
  1. NHSE National program to work with ten areas with the greatest waiting list challenges
  • Local projects:
  1. Trust 1: Regional pilot: Single Trust to start, roll out to 30+ organisations in region
  2. Trust 2: Major county Trust/Core specialties
  3. Trust 3: Major county Trust/Cancer pilot

We built partnerships to enable greater impact

  • Evangelism: FutureNHS
  • Data & Governance: Insource, Arden & Gem CSU, 8 fold Governance
  • Tools: Celonis
  • Implementation: IMPOWER, Strasys

In summary 2021 was frustrating, exhausting and exhilarating!  Overall we made progress, achieved our goals and can now say with complete confidence that patient flow can be accelerated and backlogs reduced using process mining techniques on data the NHS already possesses. We now also know the skills needed to take advantage of process mining techniques can be rapidly acquired, easily communicated and have an immediate impact.

Now after a long Christmas break we are recharged and ready for 2022, and we have a plan.

The plan for 2022

Our plan is simple - do more!
  • More practical applications of process mining, working with organisations to learn-by-doing
  • More evidence of measurable impact within the NHS context
  • More partners to get the benefits into more places sooner
  • More NHS process mining analysts on our team (Do get in touch if this might be something you want to be involved in)
  • More coaching materials to help people learn and develop skills
  • More evangelism show casing the art of the possible
  • More Clinical and non-clincal areas in which to apply process mining

Our BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)

Create the "NHS & Social Care Process Mining Centre of Excellence" that accelerates the use of process mining and makes a measurable impact on patient well being, experience and waiting times.

It is going to be an even bigger challenge, and if you would like to be involved or can help in any way please do reach out by emailing

We need to thank many people who have challenged our thinking, invited us in to projects, provided platforms to speak on and given us the inspiration and energy to keep going:
Sukhmeet Panesar, Ming Tang, Alex Cheung, Lyndon Johnson, Mike Brown, Nick Mitchell, Dounia Pajoheshfar, Sam Elliot, Rob Findlay, Sarah Ost, Naeem Younis and many many more!

picture courtesy of Dawid Zawiła