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DrDoctor PIA – Giving patients control to break the backlog

Topics: Industry insights

This week marks the one year anniversary of the day the UK went into its first national lockdown. For some of us, it may have come as a shock to find that a year later, we remain in a situation that feels all too similar.

What may come as even more of a shock, is that the backlog of hospital appointments needing to be booked now sits at over 15 million patients still in need of care, as a result of the effects of the pandemic.

Our NHS is under enormous pressure to reduce this number, and we believe there is a way to extinguish it. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Engaging patients in their own care through the use of technology is the only answer to transforming healthcare as we know it, and ultimately breaking the huge backlog of appointments.

So here at DrDoctor we knuckled down to do what we do best – deliver solutions to the NHS.

We are now delighted to launch our latest product offering, DrDoctor Patient Initiated Appointments. This solution enables NHS Trusts to stratify patients and deliver a digital first healthcare system quickly and effectively.

Despite living in the technology age, current services remain completely manual, extremely time consuming for admin and nursing staff, and costly for hospitals. By having to man these services alongside the daily pressures of the job, this unfortunately results in a poor patient experience.

We recognise that hospitals need to effectively manage incoming patient requests and track all interactions digitally. As a result, we have created a digital system that encourages patient engagement from the very first communication.

Here’s how it’s done:

  • An SMS welcome message is sent to the patient which informs them they have been added to DrDoctor PIA services.
  • Admin staff control when a patient is ready to be removed from the list, setting a time limit from the initial invitation, to the time when they no longer remain at risk.
  • If the patient becomes symptomatic during this time, they simply have to request an appointment through DrDoctor's secure patient portal.
  • To streamline this process, patients specify which dates they are available to be seen – putting them in direct control of their own healthcare journey and immediately freeing up booking teams' capacity.
  • Clinical teams review the request within their own set schedule, deciding what the outcome should be. This decision is automatically communicated clearly to the patient, keeping them informed at every stage of the journey.

This creates a system that allows hospitals to monitor and safely keep track of patients digitally, prioritising those who need to be seen. It provides effective demand management by reducing waitlist backlog, reducing face-to-face appointments and freeing up demand for those who need it most. By using DrDoctor PIA, hospitals will also see an immediate improvement in patient risk management, as patients no longer travel to appointments without clinical need.

We’ve made it easily scalable, so hospitals can manage pathways centrally and offer PIA across multiple services, all integrated within their PAS eligibility lists.

We can guarantee low friction implementation, as demographic only integration requires minimal resource, alongside a quick rollout, allowing hospitals to go-live with an initial roll out in just 2 - 6 weeks.

The DrDoctor approach to product development is in partnership with our partners. We listen, and take the time to collaborate on how we can solve immediate problems. Five of our partner Trusts were involved in the development of DrDoctor PIA. It has been tried and tested by the experts.

With this technology in place, the outlook on healthcare services looks a little brighter. If we were to look ahead to another year's time, we all want to have seen a positive change and a significant reduction in the patient backlog, which can start today.

The future of the NHS is a digital first healthcare system, which is enabled by the DrDoctor patient engagement platform.

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