NHS trust introduces digital-first pathway for endoscopy

DrDoctor solution saves staff time and gives patients more control

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has adopted a new digital-first pathway from DrDoctor for its endoscopy diagnostic service, giving nursing staff more time to focus on care and engaging patients in the pre-procedure process.

The trust, which is home to two of London’s busiest acute hospitals, is using patient-facing digital technology to cut the time taken to gather pre-operative information by more than a quarter.

The technology allows the trust to send reminder messages, digital letters, and assessments to patients ahead of their operations.

By cutting out time usually spent on phone calls and trying to contact staff, they are now able to provide care more efficiently, and give patients more control over their healthcare experience.

By enabling patients to complete assessments ahead of endoscopy operations, the trust has seen the average time taken fall from 26 minutes to just under 19 minutes – a 29% decrease.

At West Middlesex, the same time spent has reduced from 32 minutes to 12 minutes – a 63% decrease.

Bruno Botelho, director of digital operations at the Chelsea and Westminster NHS Trust, said: “By digitally engaging with patients we’re helping to release the capacity pressures our staff face.

One of our main ambitions is to provide a patient engagement platform with components that are critical to the sustainability of NHS trusts and work efficiently for both service users and staff

“I’m really pleased that we can now provide a more-efficient service to patients and provide more-personalised care.”

And staff reactions have been positive, with 80% of staff finding the pre-op assessment questionnaire useful. Three quarters of staff were also satisfied with the revised pathway, and this looks set to rise as DrDoctor makes continuous service improvements.

One specialty lead said: “With standard pre-assessment data gathered via the DrDoctor link, nursing staff have more time to focus on individual care plans and patient-centred care.

“From a service point of view, it's great to see patients more engaged in the pre-procedure process.”

The digitised patient journey also includes digital reminder letters.

These online letters allow patients to view and download their correspondence instantly, helping to prevent paper letters from arriving in the wrong order and reducing confusion from them being lost in the post.

The DrDoctor Quick Question functionality is also being used to send email and text notifications to check with patients if they still need, or want, to be seen, which is helping to reduce waiting lists and cut the chance of cancellations.

And broadcast messaging alerts patients to changes to clinics electronically, which saves the time of a phone call for staff.

The work we are doing with Chelsea and Westminster NHS trust is helping to lay the groundwork for clinical change and speedier adoption of a digital first healthcare system, while putting the needs of the patient at its heart

Now, full-time staff at the trust can run day-to-day activities without the need for additional staff to perform admin tasks.

Nurses can spend more time on high-risk patients, and admin teams can focus on contacting and supporting patients who may be harder to reach. This saves the trust time and money and enhances the patient experience across the trust.

“One of our main ambitions is to provide a patient engagement platform with components that are critical to the sustainability of NHS trusts and work efficiently for both service users and staff”, said Tom Whicher, chief executive of DrDoctor.

“The work we are doing with Chelsea and Westminster NHS trust is helping to lay the groundwork for clinical change and speedier adoption of a digital first healthcare system, while putting the needs of the patient at its heart.”

Following the project’s success, DrDoctor plans to replicate the digital pathway in other specialties at the trust, as well as seamlessly integrating the technology with the trust’s Cerner system.

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