Barnsley Trust

5 June: Digital Appointment letters launch in Outpatients

Barnsley Hospital are introducing new technology which allows patients to receive appointment letters directly to their mobile phone.

The new electronic patient letters will be issued to all outpatients who have registered a mobile phone number with the hospital.

The new system greatly improves the patient experience and patients can confirm, cancel or rebook their appointment with one click. Once confirmed, the appointment can be added directly to the patient’s digital calendar reducing the risk of forgetting their appointment. They can also save the letter to their phone or email it to print off.

How it works

Patients receive a text to their mobile phone with a secure link and 4-digit PIN. To access the letter, patients simply click the link to their secure access page and enter the PIN and date of birth and their appointment letter appears. As well as their appointment date and time, the letter also includes pre-assessment instructions, essential reading, and hospital information.

As an extra security measure, if the link isn’t accessed within 48 hours, the letter is deleted and a paper letter is automatically sent to the patient. If patients don’t have a mobile phone, or their number isn’t registered with the hospital, a postal letter will also be issued.

Accessible to all patient groups

Tom Davidson, Director of ICT at Barnsley Hospital, said: “We are really excited to launch this new system. It will greatly improve and simplify the appointment process for patients using our Outpatient Department and give them the opportunity to easily cancel or rearrange appointments if needed. The electronic letter also has an audio facility which reads the letter out for patients who need it and it can be translated, in writing or audio, to a wide range of languages at the touch of a button.”

The cost savings

As well as making the outpatient appointment process more user-friendly, the financial benefits to the NHS are more than substantial. It is considerably cheaper for a patient to receive a digital letter, equating to £100,000’s of reoccurring savings.

Healthcare Communications provide the system, aware that there was a technology gap in running a more efficient service. Mike Cunningham, the MD of the company said, “To see the daily uptake and readiness of patients to communicate this way is so exciting for the digital future of the NHS.

Our clients are under immense pressure to meet tight cost improvement targets whilst continuing to foster patient experience. By adding this option to appointment communications, it significantly enhances both areas. Patients receive their letter by communication preference and the huge savings made create CIP opportunities.”

Ends

Notes to editor: The patient portal system is provided by the company Healthcare Communications, more information about them can be found here http://www.healthcare-communications.com/

Press Release by Barnsley Hospital NHS Trust Communications Department