Knowledge Transfer
Partnership

OptifAI enables NDGAI’s clients to adapt to changing circumstances whilst still providing high-quality care

In collaboration with the University of Nottingham


In collaboration with Webroster Ltd, a UK based software design company, researchers at the University of Nottingham developed Optimiser – a commercial software product using world-class artificial intelligence algorithms to schedule homecare workers.

The software became a key component of Webroster.net’s offering contributing to its growth and in March 2020 Webroster Ltd was acquired by Access Group. At the same time, a new company, NDG Artificial Intelligence Ltd. (NDGAI), was established to focus on commercialisation of the Optimiser – renamed OptifAI.

Why OptifAI?

OptifAI (formerly Optimiser), has been used by 56 of Webroster and NDGAI’s clients, private and government homecare providers across the UK, to solve the complex task of scheduling homecare workers. The software affords key benefits to clients, carers and patients through:

  • Increased operational efficiency
  • Time and cost savings (in the field and the office)
  • Delivery of a better quality of care
  • Increased job satisfaction among homecare workers

Quick, Easy Scheduling


OptifAI enables NDGAI’s clients to adapt to changing circumstances whilst still providing high-quality care. In April 2020, with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, users of OptifAI were able to adapt  schedules quickly and easily to account for staff absences arising through illness and self- isolation, offering societal benefit.

One client stated “OptifAI was instrumental in the management of services in the first six to eight weeks of the Covid-19 pandemic…. I’m not sure how we would have coped without it” .

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Learn more about OptifAI


Planning, scheduling and mobilising skilled healthcare workers in the community is a highly complex task and, if not managed correctly, can lead to poor working conditions and hinder patient care. For over ten years, Landa Silva has conducted research on methodologies to tackle optimisation problems with multiple criteria which arise in many logistic scenarios.

OptifAI has been an excellent tool during the Covid-19 pandemic. It made scheduling rotas quick and simple and was easy to manage remotely by our homeworkers
Connie Lally | KITE Manager, Department of Adult Social Services and Public Health Richmond and Wandsworth Councils

Mobile workforce scheduling


One of the PhD students, Rodrigo Pinheiro, was employed in the KTP in collaboration with Webroster Ltd and became the Chief Optimisation Engineer in charge of the optimiser module within Webroster.net. During this intense period of research on optimisation methodologies for Workforce Scheduling and Routing Problems (WSRP), Landa Silva and his team have developed optimisation models and intelligent algorithms to automatically generate schedules for a ‘mobile workforce’, i.e., workers that travel between locations to perform tasks.

Homecare is an example of this type of scenario, where nurses, social workers, carers etc. visit patients in their own homes to provide them with health and/or care services. Research revealed the computational difficulty of this type of problem and laid the foundation for the models and algorithms that followed.

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Clients can rely on OptifAI to deliver the following benefits


  1. Significant service delivery cost savings.
  2. More efficient schedules reduce labour and travel costs in the field, enabling you to take on more business without the expense of additional staff.
  3. Enhanced service levels: Ensuring the right skills and characteristics are in the right place at the right time ensuring organisations deliver the highest level of service.
  4. Increased productivity: Boost efficiency and staff utilisation levels.
  5. Administrative efficiency: Save hours of manual scheduling freeing up staff to fulfil other administrative tasks such as reviewing and creating service plans, delivering a better return on investment on their wages.
  6. Improved wellbeing and employee satisfaction: Design schedules that support employees’ health, safety, and work-life balance.

Case study

The all-round impact of OptifAI is summarised by Nigel Gittins, former owner of Webroster Ltd and now CEO of NDGAI. “The research expertise provided by the University of Nottingham team led by Prof Landa Silva was instrumental in the development of OptifAI (formerly The Optimiser) which contributed to the growth of Webroster.

Working with the University of Nottingham, our team pushed the boundaries of technology to enable our users to provide the highest levels of quality and efficiency. The success of The Optimiser was a major factor in the company acquisition and was essential to the establishment of the new company NDGAI” and “OptifAI helps organisations become more efficient and profitable in field-based workforce scheduling” .