A new app which enables patients to manage their outpatients appointments at the touch of a button could save the NHS millions of pounds.
Developed by NHS Confederation member Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, the app allows patients to change and confirm appointments on a smartphone, tablet or computer, with outpatient letters emailed in real time.
Described as the ‘Ocado app for outpatients appointments’, the portal speeds up the medical booking process, giving patients greater choice and flexibility.
And it is saving staff time and money, significantly slashing the amount spent on staff administration and postage.
£1 million saved
“For most hospitals in the country, it is easier for somebody to book a hotel, flight and a cab to pick them up from Sydney, Australia than it is for them to change or cancel their outpatient appointment – because we don’t allow people to do it in their own time, on any device, in a way that is convenient to them,” explains trust chief executive Joe Harrison.
But with the app, called MyCare, “as soon as they press ‘confirm’, they get the hospital letter they would normally wait a week for immediately sent to their email address.”
While many trusts are providing patient portals, Milton Keynes is the first NHS hospital to provide the ability for people to directly manage their appointments, including rearranging them solely online without needing to call the hospital.
The trust, which used to send over 400,000 letters a year, will save over £1 million in postage, stationery and admin costs in 2018/19.
And with the NHS spending on average £150 million a year on stamps, the digital solution has the potential to save the NHS millions.
The trust teamed up with digital health company Zesty to develop the app, designing the system so that is can be fully interoperable with electronic health record platforms Cerner and Epic . “What we wanted was a system not just for Milton Keynes,” said Professor Harrison.
Developed and run as part of the trust’s transformation programme, the app was co-designed with patients and clinicians. Patient surveys has revealed high levels of satisfaction with the new system, and trusts across the country are visiting Milton Keynes to learn more.
As a next step, the trust hopes to give patients access to their medical record.