Secondary Care

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust moves towards paperless communication with patients

More than 75,000 patients at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust are now able to receive their appointment notifications via email rather than traditional post, as part of a project to improve how the Trust communicates with patients.

Previously, the Trust sent via post more than 1.5 million patient appointment letters a year. The project aims to cut this number significantly by giving patients greater choice in how the Trust communicates with them.

Since February, patients have been offered the option to receive details of their outpatient appointments and hospital admissions by email or to continue with traditional letters. Self-check-in kiosks at outpatient clinics across the hospital sites ask patients to consent to email based communications. Invitations to join the scheme have also been emailed to more than 100,000 patients who have provided their addresses to the Trust in the past. It is estimated that by the end of the year 150,000 Trust patients will have signed-up to receive appointment correspondence and alerts electronically.

By switching to emails, patients get their appointment details more quickly and conveniently. It is also expected to save £1 million over four years on postage costs, money that can be redirected to patient care. Voicemail reminders seven days before an appointment and a text message alert two days before, have also been introduced.

For patients who still wish to receive appointment letters by post, a new automated address check system has been introduced to make sure postal details are accurate and that first class post is prioritised for short notice appointments. These systems help to ensure that appointment letters are delivered to the right place at the right time.

The Trust is modernising the way it communicates with patients as part of a major outpatients improvement programme. This work is seeking to transform patients’ experience of outpatients including maximising digital technology to ensure the service is as responsive and efficient as possible.

Prof Tg Teoh, Divisional director for women’s, children’s and clinical support at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust said:

“This is a very exciting development for the Trust and more importantly our patients, many of whom have expressed a desire to receive correspondence electronically in the past. Email communications allow us to make sure patients receive appointment details in good time in a way that is convenient to them. This will help us to reduce the number of missed appointments.

“As part of our outpatients improvement programme we have drawn on feedback from patients to strengthen how the service is managed and to improve our processes. We are starting to see the positive impact this programme is having on our patients’ experience. We’re looking forward to building on this success and making electronic appointment reminders available to more patients over the next few months.”

This project has been implemented in partnership with Xerox.