The challenge

Digital Outpatients gives secondary care a way of managing their out-patient clinics digitally. The service means that healthcare teams can manage a mix of face to face, telephone and virtual interactions. Plus manage the workflow and outputs from the consultation using digital tools.

Digital Outpatients has been developed and co-produced with NHS frontline staff at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been increasing pressures on the NHS. Many routine services have been either suspended or changed by trusts. In addition, increasing numbers of patients are being admitted to hospital requiring higher levels of intervention and support.

NHS England’s Long Term Plan also requires organisations to reduce face to face appointments by one third by 2020/21.

The pandemic has also accelerated many new ways of working. This has allowed patients to be treated safely whilst minimising face-to-face contact where appropriate.

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The solution

We have developed an end-to-end digital solution which provides secondary care with the ability to manage their outpatient services.

It includes these modules, which can be selected from:

  • Preferences
  • Correspondence (digital letters)
  • Appointment reminders
  • Pre-assessment questionnaires
  • Video consultation
  • COVID Safe Check arrivals
  • PROMs / post-assessment questionnaires

Information is sent directly into local clinical systems by integrating with Trust Integration Engines.

How does it work?

Digital Outpatients integrates with existing IT systems and means that patients and clinicians can interact digitally, without the need for additional manual input.

Patients can set their contact preferences for their outpatient appointment, whether that’s videoconference, voice call or face-to-face. They can also set their communication preferences, whether that’s text, email or post.

 

  • The clinic list shows which patients are booked each day and their time slot.
  • The clinic list views can be customised to display the whole department, or individual clinicians.
  • Patients seamlessly transition between different states such as when they have arrived (virtually or in person) or if their consultation is in progress.
  • In virtual consultations, patients are sent links via SMS to join a video conference. They can opt to join on audio only, or share video. Clinicians can also share screens or images.
  • Clinicians have access to video conferences from their clinic list. Here, they can access via a video conference or contact the patient directly.
  • Patients who are unable to attend or do not arrive are put into a separate clinic list. Tasks are generated to confirm the next steps for non-arrivals which is fed back to the clinical system.
  • Clinicians can complete forms which detail next steps for the patient and any outcomes from their consultation. These are integrated back into the clinical system through the Inhealthcare API.

 

What are the benefits of Digital Outpatients?

  • Manage outpatient services remotely where necessary to reduce the need for face-to-face consultations. This enables patients to be in contact with a health care professional, in the safety and comfort of their own home.
  • Seamless integration with the existing clinical system means that no additional manual input is required.
  • Video consultations reduce the need for patients to travel for their appointments, reducing C02 emissions for a greener NHS and a greater degree of flexibility for the patient.
  • Clinicians can conduct consultations from almost anywhere, including their own home.
  • Reduces the number of patients in physical waiting rooms, which helps to reduce the spread of infection.
  • Physical clinic rooms and waiting room spaces can be freed up for other opportunities.
  • Accelerates NHS England’s ‘The NHS Long Term Plan’ to redesign services to reduce face to face contact by a third.

 

 

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