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North West London ICS set to slash DNAs by 30% with DrDoctor portal



North West London Integrated Care System (NWL ICS) has selected DrDoctor to deliver its patient portal to engage with patients across the entire region.  

The solution will standardise how trusts engage with patients across the four trusts in the region – Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, The Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

DrDoctor will enable patients to manage appointments irrespective of their location, enabling them to request, book, reschedule and cancel slots digitally.

The portal will also improve provider productivity by helping the trusts easily reallocate appointments and validate waiting lists using tools such as digital patient initiated follow-ups (PIFU) and clinical questionnaires.

Meanwhile, cancelled appointments will be able to be reallocated at as little as 24 hours’ notice to other patients within the ICS.

Robbie Cline, Chief Information Officer at Hillingdon Hospitals and London North West, said:

“If a patient cancels their appointment, another patient at a different hospital can take their place.

“Using the same system across all four trusts means we can release and redistribute capacity throughout the ICS, and tackle the backlog across north west London, not just at trust wide level.”

The rollout is part of the ICS’ digital strategy to address fragmented care co-ordination and improve how providers communicate with patients.

The rollout also supports the new national requirements for non-specialist acute trusts to have a portal in place by 2023-24.

At Chelsea and Westminster, which has been using DrDoctor’s portal since 2019, over 75 per cent of the trust’s patients are opting to interact through the portal, which has significantly reduced the manual burden on administrative teams and improved patient experiences.

Waiting lists have also been reduced by 30 per cent.

Cline said:

“The ICS has very specific needs when it comes to delivering services to patients, centred around making experiences of care consistent throughout the ICS.

“We have been encouraged by feedback from Chelsea and Westminster, especially the patient uptake and how well the system interoperates with other technologies, such as the Cerner EPR.”

“By giving patients the option to engage and request a slot that is convenient, they are far more likely to turn up.

“This helps us make best use of our capacity by minimising did not attend (DNA) rates, which means we can plan our workforce much more effectively, even at short notice.”

Based on results at Chelsea and Westminster, it is expected that the ability to stratify waiting lists with the use of text message questionnaires will reduce waiting lists by up to 35 per cent across the ICS.

As part of the contract, DrDoctor is also providing video conferencing for virtual consultations.

This replaces the legacy system that was introduced during the pandemic.

Cline said:

“We have seen great cost savings by making this change.

“For clinicians, they no longer need to switch between systems, which will streamline their workflows, as well as making the patient’s journey more consistent.

The three trusts are all anticipated to be live by the end of 2024.

Tom Whicher, Chief Executive, DrDoctor, said:

“We are thrilled to be expanding our relationship across the ICS footprint following such a successful partnership with Chelsea and Westminster.

“We hope this project can be used as a blueprint for other ICSs, especially as non-specialist trusts consider how to make use of the national funding for patient portals.

“When there is a joined up approach to care coordination, the benefits to patients, and to clinicians, will have a transformative impact.”

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