Video: Digital programmes and learnings from the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital

On the first day of HTN Now June, we were joined by Gavin Newman, Digital Programme Manager from the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital (ROH), based in Birmingham. The session was focused on discussing paperless transformation and lessons, based on the experiences from one of the largest specialist orthopaedic units in Europe.

The presentation started with an introduction to the trust, which is currently undergoing a large digital transformation programme, and an overview of the digital team which launched in 2020.

Gavin introduced himself and the approach of the digital team: “I’ve been at the ROH for seven years, five years spent in IT and two years within the strategy and delivery team. We made a decision last year to form a team of staff from not only within the trust but also externally into a team that would focus on project delivery and transformation.”

“All of the projects and programmes feed into a perfecting pathways programme that is chaired by the director of a strategy.”

“One of the key successes we’ve found so far,” he said, “is utilising a project charter [a short document describing the project], so we take it to the perfecting pathways programme in hope it gets signed off there; if it does get approval, then we work on a business plan and a more structured, detailed plan of what we’d like to achieve.”

Gavin then outlined the trust’s achievements from the past couple of years: “Two years ago, I think it’s safe to say our trust was printing every single letter in-house. We were doing all the batching and franking, and that was a manual task for every member of staff. We decided to start tackling the situation, and we started a partnership with DrDoctor to look at our SMS appointment reminders first.”

ROH fully rolled out the DrDoctor service in August of 2019, and the early release of digital letters started in September 2020. Since then, 35,000 unique digital letters have been read online.

Gavin also went into more detail about how the digital letters process works: “The first message goes out to the patient, if the patient doesn’t open it or touch the message, the letter gets automatically posted after three days, and any patient has the option to select digital exclusion, [if] they don’t wish to receive any digital correspondence.”

To date Gavin highlighted 75,809 digital letters have been sent, with around 35,608 opened and read online, without the need to send a paper copy. The digital letters service is currently only functional in the appointments department but will be rolled out to radiology in the second phase.

The digital team at ROH played a vital role in the COVID-19 vaccination programme, as Gavin explains: “When the vaccination programme was launched, we didn’t have a booking calendar whatsoever, so we had nothing to go on. So we reached out to one of our suppliers and we turned that around within a week.”

Gavin also explained how getting the word out on the success his team had was an important part of developing their digital brand: “I think if there’s one thing that the ROH didn’t do, we didn’t shout about our successes, our quick wins. We managed to undergo some comms, and with our great comms department started getting the message out.”

The next steps for the digital team were also explored: “We’ve never had a digital strategy, so we’re now working on an active digital strategy to try and not only bring us into line with the ICS requirements, but also so we’ve got something substantiated there to give.”

As the digital team has grown and become an established part of the trust, Gavin said feedback was the most important thing to improve their services: “I think we’re now in a position where we have to start listening to what’s best for our staff, what will save them time?”

You can watch the session here: