The challenge

Digital Outpatients gives NHS trusts a way of managing their out-patient clinics digitally. NHS teams can manage a mix of face-to-face, telephone and virtual interactions. In addition, it manages the outputs from the appointment using digital tools, which all go back into the clinical record.

Digital Outpatients has been developed by 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. In addition, increasing numbers of patients are being admitted to hospital who need higher levels of support.

The pandemic has also accelerated many new ways of working. There has been an increase in online or telephone appointments. This has allowed patients to be treated safely whilst reducing social contact.

NHS England’s Long Term Plan also requires NHS trusts to reduce face-to-face appointments by one third.

Resources

Leaflet – Digital Outpatients

The solution

Digital Outpatients is an end-to-end digital solution so that secondary care can manage their outpatient services.

Digital Outpatients is made up of a number of different modules which can be mixed and matched. Trusts can choose 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 systems and means that patients and clinicians can interact digitally, without the need for manual input.

Patients set their contact preferences for their appointment, whether that’s video conference, call or face-to-face. They can also set their communication preferences, such as 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 when they have arrived (virtually or in-person), or if their consultation is in progress.
  • Patients are sent video conference joining links in an SMS. They can opt to join audio only, or share video.
  • Clinicians can share screens or images with patients.
  • Clinicians have access to video conference from their clinic list. Here, they can choose to contact the patient using the video conference function, or they can contact the patient directly.
  • Patients who are unable to attend or do not arrive are put into a separate 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 the next steps for the patient and any outcomes from their appointment. The forms are integrated back into the clinical system.

What are the benefits of Digital Outpatients?

  • Manage outpatient services remotely to reduce the need for face-to-face consultations. Patients can be in contact with healthcare teams, in the safety and comfort of their own home.
  • The data captured is integrated in the clinical system so there is no need for manual input.
  • Video consultations reduce the need for patients to travel for their appointments, which reduces CO2 emissions and means more flexibility for patients.
  • Clinicians can run remote clinics from any location.
  • 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 uses.
  • Helps meet the requirements of NHS England’s ‘The NHS Long Term Plan’ to redesign services to reduce face-to-face contact.

Resources

Leaflet – Digital Outpatients

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