Patients attending outpatient appointments at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) will start to receive their appointment letters via SMS text message in a matter of minutes, instead of waiting for a paper copy to come through the post.
The UHMBT eLetters system will be rolled out on a service by service basis starting with Gynaecology from August 2020.
The Trust engaged with focus groups across the Bay last year about the project and received positive feedback which included:
“Sounds like a good idea to me. Much easier than waiting for a letter.”
“I think this is a very good idea, probably quicker and cheaper too to the NHS.”
“Sounds like a good system, and will save on resources, printing and preparing letters for post. Also, resolve missed appointments due to letters going astray in the postal system.”
The eLetters system will also help the Trust to save an estimated £57,000 per year in postage costs in its Community Patient Contact Centre and there is the potential to save substantially more on postage costs with system roll out across all booking teams. It will also help the Trust to become more environmentally friendly by cutting down on paper usage and free up time for outpatient clerks to spend more time engaging with patients and other key tasks.
If the Trust has a patient’s mobile phone number and they have not opted out of the service, a text will be sent to them with a pin number and link to their outpatient appointment letter.
If the link is not accessed within 48 hours this will be flagged on the Lorenzo Electronic Patient Record system and a letter will be sent to the person’s address. If a person does use the link and view the appointment letter within 48 hours a letter will not be posted to them.
Future development of the eLetters system will give people the option to confirm they can attend their appointment, book a new appointment date or cancel their appointment completely if they feel it is no longer required all via their phone.
Approximately 530,763 people attended outpatient appointments between April 2018 and March 2019.
Alison Whiteside, Patient Access Manager, UHMBT, said: “This new way of working really shows how we are moving forward as a Trust through the use of digital and technology. The eLetters system will help to free up staff time to allow them to spend more time engaging with patients and focus on other key tasks.”
Leanne Cooper, Acting Deputy Chief Operating Officer, UHMBT, said: “Thanks to our I3 colleagues, technology is really driving a more efficient way of working at the Trust. By sending outpatient appointment letters via text message, the Trust is not only reducing its carbon footprint but is saving money.”
You can find out more information about eLetters at https://www.uhmb.nhs.uk/visiting-our-hospitals/outpatients/eletters