An NHS England pilot at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (NNUH) to give patients and their carers more flexibility over their follow-up appointments is now benefitting more than 30,000 patients.
Embedding Patient Initiated Follow Up (PIFU) in outpatients is allowing a personalised approach to follow-up care and has avoided 29,000 unnecessary appointments in one year.
A partnership between digital suppliers, Infinity Health and DrDoctor, has enabled NNUH to roll out the digital PIFU service, helping clinical teams to review patients remotely and enabling patients to book their appointments digitally.
Chris Cobb, Chief Operating Officer, NNUH, said: “Our partnership with Infinity Health and DrDoctor is already having a positive impact on patients and clinicians.
“Patients tell us that they feel in control of their condition and can communicate with their clinical teams more easily.
“It is also releasing appointments in the hospital, while giving clinicians the tools to remotely monitor patients.
“We are working hard to ensure even more patients benefit from PIFU and I’m looking forward seeing the impact brought about by integrating blood tests into the process.”
A year into the project, 31,862 patients with chronic conditions or who have had surgery or treatment, are on a PIFU pathway.
Of these, 2,389 (7 per cent) have booked an appointment, saving at least 29,473 appointments in one year, although it is likely to be more as patients often attend more than one appointment per year.
Clinicians remotely monitor appropriate patients using digital assessment forms, with 1126 returned for review over the 12 months.
Therefore with the time spent reviewing the forms, the time saved is closer to the equivalent of 29,022 appointments.
Patients are now only attending hospital when necessary, freeing up appointments for those who need them the most.
With PIFU, patients can decide if they need an appointment and request it via the DrDoctor app at a convenient date and time.
Patients have welcomed the changes, giving an average of 4.2/5 patient feedback rating.
Clinicians across 30 specialties are able to remotely monitor their patients on PIFU pathways.
Infinity Health’s task management platform integrates with NNUH’s Patient Administration System (PAS) to send assessment forms to appropriate patients, at regular intervals decided by each specialty, and clinicians can efficiently review these and prioritise patients safely.
Patients who do not engage are identified to ensure that they are catered for, mitigating the clinical risk as no patients are lost to follow-up.
Elliott Engers, CEO, Infinity Health said: “This is really exciting progress.
“To be able to offer 30,000 patients the option to book an appointment when they need one, and reduce the unnecessary appointments that clinicians attend.
“The patients that need care are seen quicker, while other patients can be reviewed remotely so no one slips through the net.”
Tom Whicher, CEO, DrDoctor said: “Norfolk and Norwich has proved to be a great project for all involved, with one of the highest uptakes of digital PIFU.
“They are a great example of how to get digital patient engagement right and scale PIFU quickly and safely.
“Our seamless partnership with the Trust and Infinity Health is supporting a truly integrated, and automated, outpatients solution that works for patients and clinicians.”
The next phase of the project is to integrate Infinity with NNUH’s on-site laboratories, automating the process of requesting and reviewing blood tests, to increase efficiencies and reduce time.
There are currently over 4000 blood tests processed per day at the laboratory; the second busiest laboratory in England.