North West London ICS chooses DrDoctor communications portal

By Jo Makosinski | Published: 29-May-2023

Digital patient engagement tool helps boost productivity

North West London Integrated Care System (NWL ICS) has selected the DrDoctor patient portal to engage with health service users.  

The solution will standardise the way 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. 

And it will help 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 trusts easily reallocate appointments and validate waiting lists through tools such as digital patient-initiated follow-ups (PIFU) and clinical questionnaires.  

Cancelled appointments will be able to be reallocated at as little as 24 hours notice to other patients within the ICS.

“If a patient cancels their appointment, another patient at a different hospital can take their place,” said Robbie Cline, chief information officer at Hillingdon Hospitals and London North West.

“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 trustwide level.”

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

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

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 trustwide level

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

Waiting lists have also been reduced by 30%.  

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 and 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% across the ICS.   

As part of the contract, DrDoctor is also providing video conferencing for virtual consultations, replacing the legacy system that was introduced during the pandemic.  

“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,” said Cline. 

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

Tom Whicher, chief executive of 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 co-ordination, the benefits to patients, and to clinicians, will have a transformative impact.” 

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