With over 1 million people accessing NHS services every day, and the expected winter pressures starting to show, it’s vital that patient interactions are as well organised and accessible as they can be. We have compiled a list of communications tech that could be easily implemented ahead of this difficult season to help reduce pressures on our frontline staff.
With the news suggesting shielding may return during the winter to protect vulnerable individuals, virtual care platforms built specifically for healthcare are essential to ensuring they can still access support and care whilst staying safe. Features such as screen-share to allow things like X-rays to be shown and discussed, and other accessibility tools such as ‘read aloud’ for those with vision impairment will ensure that care is not compromised in these circumstances. Live translation to enable patients for whom English is a second language to attend appointments virtually without an interpreter is also a crucial component for the NHS to stay connected with patients.
Waiting List Management
Even when experiencing these extra winter pressures, improving patient waiting list experience with the reassurance that they have not been forgotten about still needs to be top of NHS priorities. The crucial element to a successful waiting list management project, which can dramatically reduce staff workloads and improve efficiency, is implementing an integrated approach to digital and paper-based letters to ensure all patients can be reached. By rolling out with an end-to-end solution that sends waiting list validation to patients via SMS with a link to a digital letter, or automatically trips to paper if not engaged with, every patient can be reached. Once the letter is opened, patients can self-select their response and it is logged on the system, where it can be accessed by a clinician to complete clinical validation, and then sent to the admin team for admin validation.
Instant patient messaging
Quickly alert 1000’s of patients of short notice or cancelled clinics with an instant patient messaging platform, which enables you to customise messages to urgency and need. Patients can respond conversationally and with free text via SMS, avoiding long call queue times to ensure all slots can be filled. This engagement tool also has multiple other uses such as updating staff on important hospital news, informing patients of new Covid guidance, and filling last minute staff shifts, all in the time it takes to type one text.
Delivering via a choice of digital and non-digital channels guarantees you can be fully inclusive for all capabilities and stops valuable slots being wasted through missed appointment letters or pre attendance instructions. By implementing digital-first messaging that automatically trips to postal should the patient not engage, plus an automated voice option for those who prefer to engage over the phone, you can ensure your communications are being received and responded to by everyone.
Healthcare chatbot usage has risen dramatically over the past year after this clever tech stepped up to support staff during the pandemic and relieve some of the workload. From appointment management to crisis help, there are a range of uses which can help streamline processes and ease admin burdens. From 5 queries to 5000, chat bots can answer every single one simultaneously, as well as de-escalating complaints by providing easily accessible advice 24/7 to potentially reduce the need for a complaint or inbound call. Read our handy checklist of top chatbots for NHS communications.
Digital-first Patient Initiated Follow Ups
PIFU puts more decision-making in the patient’s hands, by putting them on a pathway where they can arrange follow-ups as and when they need one rather than having unwanted routine appointments booked in advance. This encourages them to have more control over their care whilst freeing up capacity for the organisation. Digital-first PIFU takes even more pressure off the NHS by instantly triaging patients via a choice of channels, saving time and resources, before instantly feeding the information back to the hospital for review.
Healthcare Communications works with 350 NHS hospitals to personalise the healthcare journey from referral to discharge and transform patients lives. We have developed the tools needed to accelerate patient empowerment through engagement solutions such as video consultations, appointment management platforms, patient self-scheduling, PIFU, personal portals, patient experience surveys, and virtual assistants/chatbots. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.