NHS tech to give patients online diary to manage treatment
PATIENTS will be able to book – and change – medical appointments online, under NHS plans to cut the £1billion a year wasted because people fail to turn up.
Ministers said the scheme is part of a “HealthTech revolution” to make life easier for patients and staff, and make sure every pound invested in the NHS goes further.
Every year around eight million hospital appointments are wasted because patients fail to attend, without letting the hospital know in advance.
In many cases, those wishing to cancel appointments say they attempted to contact hospital departments, but gave up after finding it too difficult to get through to the right person, with no option to cancel online.
The new system, which will be used by more than 20 NHS trusts, means patients will be able to access a portal, allowing them to book their appointment, change the time slot – and even access maps showing them exactly where in the hospital they need to go. Patients will also be able to receive appointment letters by email and text reminders as the slot approaches.
Trusts testing the system say it has saved them up to £2million a year, with missed appointments falling by almost a third, and postage costs falling by more than a quarter.
Health officials said the online portal, Dr Doctor, will be trialled in 11 more hospitals on top of 10 that have recently introduced it with wider roll-out of such systems across the country if they prove a success. Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, said: “A HealthTech revolution is coming to the NHS. This is a great example of how technology can make life easier for patients and NHS staff, helping more people to access health services from home and ensuring every pound goes further.”
Almost eight million hospital appointments were missed, or “did not attend”, in 2017-18, official figures show – 6.7 per cent of all slots. That does not include appointments cancelled in advance by either hospital or the patient.
With each hospital outpatient appointment costing the NHS approximately £120, it suggests almost £1billion worth of appointments were missed – equivalent to the cost of 257,000 hip replacements.
Dr Simon Eccles, chief clinical information officer for health and care, said: “This technology has the potential to be a triple win for the NHS by making life easier for patients, saving money and improving appointment efficiency.”
Dr Doctor is already used in a number of hospitals including Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. The tool will now be tested at a variety of hospitals – from small specialist sites to large inner city hospitals, in pilot schemes due to launch next year.