London North West Healthcare reaps rewards of digital comms platform

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The London North West Healthcare Trust has deployed a digital communications platform which has helped reduce administration burdens and saved money.

The platform from Healthcare Communications allows the trust to engage with patients and get advance warning of rebooked and cancelled appointments.

Automated, interactive appointment reminders are now sent direct to patients via text, with patient responses instantly reported back to the booking team.

This has helped cut DNA rates from 15% to 10.8%, which has released much-needed capacity and minimised staff time spent waiting for ‘no-shows’.

Chris Robbins, general manager of the outpatients and patient access centre at the trust, said: “From working with the Healthcare Communications team for over a year, we have transformed our patient communications with flexible, user-friendly technology that underpins a better patient journey. As a result, we have the capacity to provide more patient care, and we can work around the needs of our staff, whatever the circumstance.”

Digital letters are also being delivered via the patient portal, which allows patients to cancel, reschedule or confirm their appointments online.

LNWH is also using the instant messaging functionality to send planned and ad hoc messages about appointments and visiting hours to individuals and groups of patients.

Kenny Bloxham, managing director at Healthcare Communications, added: “LNWH has been successful in moving its patient communications to ‘digital by default’ long before the pandemic, and the benefits this brings is clear.

“With tools such as instant messaging and the patient portal, the trust can communicate with patients at scale to help keep pressure off NHS administration staff, and provide a better patient experience. It shows what can be achieved with a well thought-through, digitised communication strategy.”

The trust is undertaking further work with Healthcare Communications as staff cope with the backlog of appointments that has built up during the peak of the pandemic.

Healthcare Communications’ platform is being used to create messages tailored to specific patient cohorts according to clinical need, so that priority patients can be seen first, and the trust can phase its return to normal patterns of activity.

In April 2020, Digital Health News reported on how Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust had implemented Healthcare Communications’ E-clinic software, which allows patients to see their clinicians via online consultations, from their own homes. The technology proved to be popular at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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