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Case study published on Berkshire Healthcare NHS FT’s ‘digital first’ approach

Healthcare Communications has published a new case study on its work to craft a ‘digital first’ future with Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (BHNFT).

Focusing on patient engagement technology, the report details how BHNFT – a community and mental health trust which serves a population of around 900,000 – sought to procure a ‘digital first’ solution that would enable automated and paperless patient appointment communications, as well as smart alerts for planned and unplanned care in the community.

BHNFT joined the Global Digital Exemplar (GDE) programme in 2017, receiving £5 million in funding to transform its patient care through technology, and consequently ‘identified two-way communication between providers and patients’ as one of its ‘main objectives’.

With this, as well as a new landscape of post-COVID digital willingness, in mind, the trust decided to ‘evolve’ its care delivery service towards a ‘patient-initiated follow-up (PIFU) model’, to help tackle the issue of missed appointments, and the root of the reasons behind them.

Having chosen Healthcare Communications to be its provider of appointment reminders, as well as a patient portal, and patient surveys, Berkshire Healthcare embarked on a journey of tailored transformation and technology, which now means the trust offers a ‘digital by default’ system to patients – with the safety net of postal communication should information fail to be accessed within 24 hours and the option for patients to translate digital text to 99 languages.

The new case study, recently released by Healthcare Communications, details how the trust achieved its aims, the benefits for patients, staff feedback so far, and the partnership’s future plans to fine tune its ‘digital ecosystem’ by integrating the patient portal with BHNFT’s Rio EPR, which is provided by Servelec.

A snapshot of some of the results achieved so far, includes a cumulative non-cash releasing efficiency saving of over £170,000, savings of 51p per digital letter, 12,650 Did Not Attend (DNA) appointments avoided since 2017, and a total time efficiencies save for administrative staff worth over £115,000 since implementation. The trust hopes to reach savings of over £3 million by December 2022.

Sophie Trezise, GDE Benefits Realisation Lead at BHNFT, said: “Manual processes have been reduced significantly and efficiency has improved across the board. For instance, if a patient books an appointment today, we will send them communication no later than tomorrow. They will receive automated appointment reminders and they also have the ability to provide instant feedback — they can confirm, cancel and rebook appointments digitally, rather than a patient having to ring someone at the trust to tell them.”

To read the case study and its findings in full, please click here.