Northern Lincolnshire and Goole switch to digital letters

Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust (NLaG) is using digital letters for its Outpatients services, with Inpatient letters due to go live in early 2022.

The move means that patients are able to view appointment letters on their smartphones – providing the ability to confirm, cancel or rebook appointments digitally, through ‘the click of a button’.

Those who don’t open their digital letters within 24 hours, or who don’t own a smartphone or similar device, will instead receive a hard copy through the post as usual.

Most of NLaG’s Outpatient letters have now moved over to digital, and can be accessed through the trust’s patient portal, as part of a process that began last year – with Inpatient services set to follow shortly.

Patients will receive a text reminder about their appointment from NHS NLaG, which will include a link that directs them to the portal, where they will input a PIN number and their date of birth to access their letters. Responses to hospitals to change or cancel appointments will be sent in ‘real-time’, while clinic or hospital-specific instructions and other essential reading can also be accessed through the portal.

The latest update to the service is the inclusion of names on the texts, so that patients will know that the message is for them and parents or carers will be able to tell which child the appointment is for, before opening.

If the trust has a patient’s latest mobile phone number, they will automatically be opted in, although there is also the ability for patients to opt out of the service.

Appointments, once confirmed, can be added to patients’ own digital calendars, and accessibility tools include the ability yo translate pages into around 98 chosen languages, the use text magnifiers and text highlighting, and the choice to have messages read aloud. A live travel map is also included in the portal to guide patients to the correct area.