The Topol Review, commissioned by Matt Hancock, came out this month. It is led by geneticist, cardiologist and digital medicine researcher Dr Eric Topol, and focuses on preparing the healthcare workforce to deliver a digital future. The review aims to help NHS staff make the most of innovation and digital medicine, AI, robotics and genomics with a goal of improving healthcare services for all and ensuring the sustainability of the NHS. All in line with the Long-Term plan.

We welcome the report as it clearly demonstrates how much AI and digital technologies can help support our NHS workforce. It's vital that we grasp these opportunities now, while we can, and make bold steps towards executing on this vision.

One of our core values at DrDoctor is ‘Automate to add human value’. This means using digital technologies to help and support human efforts in looking after patients better. By enabling patient-led booking online and via SMS calls to booking centres are drastically reduced. This allows booking teams to focus on supporting that group of patients who need the extra help or human contact.

Another way we use automation to support appointment booking is by our See me sooner feature. Patients have the opportunity to cancel unwanted appointments easily through their smartphone. Our solution integrates with the PAS of a hospital to offer these newly available appointment slots to someone else. For them to be seen sooner. By automatically pulling information from waitlists. This works especially well with last minute cancellations that would require enormous amounts of manual re-work. Traditionally booking teams need to identify, reach and communicate with patients to refill slots. Our feature can be configured in any way the hospital chooses, to redistribute even the very last-minute cancellations. By automating the process of refilling cancelled appointment slots, clinic utilisation is drastically improved which allows more patients to be seen and offers financial savings for the clinic.

AI and machine learning are integral parts of the research element of our solution. We use different types of data around the patient and their appointment to assess the likelihood of them attending it. This gives a percentage score for the odds of them making their scheduled slot. This data can be used by hospitals to target follow-up activity, and interventions and calls made to patients to optimise efforts. We also use this data to continually improve our services. It enables us to gain an insight into the effectiveness of our approach i.e. wording in text messages and emails.

The Review is based on five pre-suppositions for the digitisation of the NHS. The first point draws special emphasis in placing patients at the heart of the care journey and implementation of technology. We refer to our solution as the Patient layer. We are the uniform, outward facing communication platform that brings together multiple care settings. These can be hospitals or community providers. From the patients’ point of view, they receive their treatment from ‘the NHS’. We recognise the importance of providing a single point of contact to bring together healthcare as a system, not as individual organisations.

The second point focuses around the importance of implementation, and how digitising workflows should be based on robust clinical validation. Our technology follows the King’s Fund report on Digital change in health and social care which highlights the importance of facilitated implementation of any IT projects in the NHS.  This is why every DrDoctor implementation comes with a dedicated transformation resource team to help Trusts achieve their objectives. We customise our approach to fit the needs of each Trust and their individual goals and objectives. 

The review also discusses the importance of empowering patients to take greater charge of their own care. That is the fundamental motivation behind our technology. We enable patients to book, reschedule and cancel appointments by simple technology, on their own mobile phone. This gives them control and places them as decision-makers in their own care. This way patients are far more engaged, and much more likely to turn up for their appointments. Because appointments take place when it suits them best, and communication takes place in their chosen format.

The Topol Review highlights the importance of patient-clinician relationships. Our ultimate goal is to help the NHS communicate with patients better. We do this by opening up different, simple avenues for communication and allowing a streamlined, efficient dialogue to take place. This includes appointment management, but also extends to the use of paperless communication and digital forms.

We agree with the predispositions the Topol Review identifies as basis for digital transformation in the NHS; We use similar principles in our own work and as pre-qualifying conditions for our implementation with any of our existing and future partners. We stand behind and are excited for the unravelling of the Long-Term Plan and continue to support the NHS in their adoption of digital innovation.



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