Wye Valley NHS Trust using the latest technology to help tackle waiting times
Wye Valley NHS Trust is using new ways of improving communications with patients who are waiting for hospital outpatient appointments as part of its efforts to tackle waiting lists which have grown during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A pilot project in neighbouring Worcestershire has gone down well with patients and now, starting on Monday next week, February 28th, patients awaiting a first or follow up appointment will be contacted by an automated telephone calling system.
During the call they will be guided through a series of questions to update the referral with current information and confirm whether the appointment is still required.
This will allow the Trust to establish whether patients’ conditions have improved, whether they have sought treatment elsewhere or whether they still need to be seen.
“As a result of the pandemic, more patients are waiting for a specialist appointment and we are doing all we can to reduce this list,” said Jane Ives, Wye Valley NHS Trust’s managing director.
“Many of these are people who were referred during the pandemic but have yet to be contacted regarding a hospital appointment.
“These automated calls will help us to ensure those who need treatment are seen as quickly as possible.”
The patients who will receive an automated call will be sent an SMS/text message in advance to let them know they can expect an automated call about their appointment.
The Trust will continue to contact other patients via more traditional methods – telephone or letter.
Mike Emery, Director for Digital Health and infrastructure at NHS Herefordshire and Worcestershire CCG said: “We know that across the country the NHS is facing a huge challenge to restore services as a result of the disruption caused throughout the pandemic.
“In order to address waiting times and ensure patients are seen as quickly as possible, we are looking at a number of ways to do this and automated calling is one option.
“We will still be using traditional means of letter writing and personal calling also, but in addition to this we need to look to innovative solutions to help manage the increasing demand for services.”
Automated calling has already been adopted in other parts of the country to contact those who have waited throughout the pandemic to see if they wish to remain on appointment lists.
During the call, patients can still choose to speak to someone in person and plans are in place to use alternative means to contact anyone who misses a call.