News, NHS trust

Royal Devon University Healthcare moves to ‘digital by default’ approach for outpatient letters

Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has moved to a ‘digital by default’ approach with regards to outpatient letters, with director of transformation Phil Luke highlighting hopes that the move will “dramatically reduce the amount of paper waste and cut down on carbon emissions” as part of efforts to achieve net zero carbon emissions.

Financial benefit are also expected, with the trust sharing an estimation that reductions in print and postage costs will save £967,000 over two years.

Changing to the digital by default approach has come about in response to patient feedback through online platform MY CARE, with patients said to have indicated that they would like to receive appointment information through the platform rather than through the post. Existing services are to remain in place for people who would prefer not to use digital communication methods.

The new system will see patients with an active MY CARE account notified about new appointment information in the platform by text message or email depending on preference; if they do not click the relevant link or open the appointment letter in MY CARE within a set timeframe, they will then also receive the information by phone or post.

In December, HTN reported on the trust’s new patient communications policy which highlighted ten proposed principles including electronic communication and the need for patient communication to be person-centred. We previously covered Royal Devon University Healthcare going live with its EPR back in 2022.

In other news from the region, last year we explored a case study from NHS England focusing on improving care home residents’ wellbeing through digital technology in South Devon and Torbay. The case study shares how Amazon Alexa devices, a meta portal, mobile phones and WiFi extenders were all utilised to support residents’ wellbeing, alongside training to support staff; read more here.

On green initiatives, HTN shared how NHS Business Services Authority launched a new dashboard with the aim of helping prescribers to reduce the carbon impact from inhalers.