An app that began life helping to schedule waste and recycling services is now helping to save lives in the health sector.

Malinko Intelligent Scheduling's algorithm automatically schedules carer and nurse visits for patients, replacing the complicated spreadsheets and legacy hospital systems that were being used.

Founder Andrew Threlfall was already well aware of the time constraints endured by medical professionals as his wife is a hospital doctor. He then realised that carers had started buying his software to schedule home visits for patients.

He then met his business partner Rob McGovern, who suggested taking this to the next level, and the pair pivoted the business toward healthcare in 2016.

"Scheduling nurses is much more complicated than simply an efficient route – it has to be patient-centred," Threlfall told BusinessCloud.

"It's about who’s visited before, whether it has to be a particular time, or if they need a male or female doctor with specific qualifications.

“When we first talked to nurses they didn’t think a computer could do this job. We said ‘a computer can do this and create automatic schedules at the press of a button’.”

Now with over 3,000 daily users, senior nurses can schedule and book more than 100 patient appointments in just 20 minutes, Threlfall says – a job that would have previously taken them hours.

“We’re actually improving patient safety,” he said. “Patients won’t have a missed visit because we’ll auto schedule that insulin injection every day.

“We also have a mobile app where a nurse can check in and out so they know it’s been done.

“If you don’t have your insulin between certain hours there’s risk of a diabetic coma. So senior nurses used to ring round and ask every person if they’d done their insulin visits – now the nurse has the app, can say when they arrived and left, and at the office they can look at the computer and see it’s all been done.”

This has helped nurses get over the fear that the app’s purpose is to monitor them. Threlfall says it improves the safety of nurses too, flagging up if a nurse hasn’t left a house at an expected time.

“The nurses are going into people’s houses and there are lots of concerns around lone workers,” said Threlfall.

“We can provide some kind of protection and once they realise we’re not trying to get nurses to work harder just smarter, they start saying of course, why haven’t we had this years ago?”

Another common concern of the health workers is that they’re not spending enough time with patients, and using Malinko’s data nurses can tell if they’re spending a safe amount of time with each patient.

“You can’t give harm-free care if you go in and do a quick check – you need to be asking how they are and spotting other issues,” he said.

Rushed visits also have a knock-on effect of more patients in hospitals, which are more expensive. However the software can also help hospitals connect to the community care teams for the first time to check capacity when discharging patients.

“If patients are being discharged and need someone to check on them, hospitals have no idea which services are busy when using spreadsheets or paper diaries,” said Threlfall.

“We can help hospitals become aware of the NHS community team and in the longer term will look at reducing bed blocking and improving visibility. They’ve never had that, which you just wouldn’t expect anywhere else.”

Based out of Mi-IDEA at Manchester Science Park, the 12-strong team is now seeking investment to scale.