Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust (NLAG) has launched new NHS App features aimed at transforming the way patients access and manage their appointments within the NHS.
The Wayfinder programme is part of a national strategy led by NHS England to improve patient experience and help tackle waiting list backlogs – positioning the NHS App as the digital “front door” to NHS services.
The new features, which went live at NLAG on February 14, enable patients to see and manage their GP referrals and hospital appointments and, in time, their letters and waiting times.
It has already been proven that in providing patients with more control over their appointment bookings and making it easier to book, cancel or reschedule, trusts experience a reduction in missed appointments (known as “did not attend” or DNAs).
Shauna McMahon, Chief Information Officer, at NLAG, said:
“We are committed to advancing our digital technology to enhance patient care, providing improved patient experience and reaping the rewards through better operational efficiencies.
“This project will help us to build on the significant gains that we have already seen following the introduction of our Healthcare Communications digital patient engagement portal.”
The initiative has been designed to be vendor-agnostic, with patient communication suppliers from all participating trusts working together, alongside NHS England, to provide a consistent service delivered through the NHS App.
Healthcare Communications, which has a longstanding relationship with NLAG, has worked closely with the national programme team to integrate its patient portal into the NHS App for NLAG patients.
NLAG is one of 23 NHS acute trusts to launch the new app features.
NLAG launched its patient portal in June 2021, which enabled the trust to send patient appointment letters digitally and provide SMS appointment reminders enabling patients to cancel or rebook their appointment.
Since its launch, 66 per cent of patients have accessed the patient portal and 77 per cent of patients have opted in to SMS messaging services.
The trust has since sent more than 500,000 appointment letters digitally, saving £171,000 in printing and administration costs.
Additionally, SMS reminders have resulted in an immediate reduction in DNAs – from 10 per cent to 7 per cent meaning that patient appointments can be reallocated and are not wasted.
Jackie France, Associate Director for Patient Services at NLAG, said:
“The number of NHS App users spiked dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many people downloaded the app to access their COVID Passport.
“This increase in users has made it a more viable way to communicate with patients and we hope that those patients, who may be reluctant to download our patient portal, may be more accepting of accessing appointment information via an existing app on their phone.”
Kenny Bloxham, Managing Director, Healthcare Communications, added:
“We are delighted to work with NHS England, partner organisations and the team at NLAG to expand the functionality of the NHS App and help more people to access the services that they need digitally.
“We are committed to working alongside other vendors to make this happen and are proud of what we have collectively achieved.
“We are now looking to support NLAG as we expand the reach of the digital communications provided via the NHS App.”
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