Case study: Cardiff and Vale University Health Board dramatically reduces waiting lists by over 20%

By Jo Makosinski | Published: 5-May-2023

Tackling the backlog with digital-first waiting list validation

The challenge

NHS Wales sent out a national request for all health boards to validate patients who had been waiting over 52 weeks for their first outpatient attendance.

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board needed to reduce the manual admin impact on staff and reach all patient demographics, regardless of digital capability.

And, as Cardiff is a multi-lingual population, the health board wanted to cater to all languages, not just Welsh and English.

The solution

The health board has a longstanding partnership with Healthcare Communications (HC), delivering digital-first, pro-active patient engagement solutions, and decided to take a similar approach for waiting list validation.

Communications are sent by SMS, enabling patients to complete questionnaires instantly, with an automatic switch to post for those who do not engage digitally.

Postal letters prompt patients to access the form via a QR code or URL, rather than by post, to encourage faster response rates and save costs.

And patients who do not respond after four weeks are sent a reminder and are removed from the waiting list four weeks later, with the option be reinstated within two weeks.

The platform offers a suite of accessibility features, including translation, empowering people to view digital text in their first language, or have it read aloud.

The benefits

Following a successful rollout, the health board decided to take its validation further than the initial targets, and by April 2022 managed to get down to 28 weeks.

It reported:

  • A 21.5% reduction in waiting lists, with 52,900 patients validated in just 10 months
  • A dramatic reduction in staff requirements from potentially five full-time people to just three part-time, so clinical time can be focused on the 30% that needed reassessment
  • Data quality has vastly improved by requesting updates to contact details during validation.
  • The board has gained a better understanding of how to best follow up patients in the future, as well as valuable insights to drive change within the service

Commenting on the deployment, Denis Williams, interim general manager for performance information innovation, said: “After receiving a digital letter, patients remarked that these should be used across the board as they find them much easier to read, and ophthalmology patients have shared their appreciation for the ability to enlarge text.”

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