Chatbot tech helps Lancashire and South Cumbria tackle patient waiting lists

Chatbot technology has been used across Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS to help tackle elective care waiting lists.

The system guides patients through a series of questions to establish if their condition has changed, if they require treatment sooner, or if they no longer require treatment.

Following a pilot with 2,282 patients, 15 percent indicated there were able to leave the waiting list, with the remaining indicating the need to stay on the waiting list. However, 10 percent of patients in the pilot highlighted the need for an appointment sooner than previously scheduled.

Gary Doherty, director of service development at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The chatbot has had some fantastic results, both for our patients and for the NHS hospitals treating them, demonstrating what a great initiative this is.

“People in Blackpool and East Lancashire should not be worried if they receive a text message or a call from a number they don’t recognise. The service will be similar to telephone banking, but no one will be asked to divulge any sensitive information on the call.

“This is an opportunity for patients to make sure they are reviewed for treatment, at the same time as freeing up NHS staff resources. If patients in Blackpool and East Lancashire engage with the service in the same way, that will be a successful result for patients and their local hospital.”

A further 2,000 patients will now join the programme to extend the pilot further.

In March 2022, HTN interviewed Professor Anthony Rowbottom, Lancashire and South Cumbria HCP, to explore how technologies will play their part in shaping services and collaboration across the region.