It’s a hot topic across the NHS and has been for some time, especially since the wide-set disruption triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. With millions on the waiting lists, how can the NHS tackle its elective care backlog? Induction Healthcare and CCube Solutions share how their solutions are designed to ease these pressures.

Induction Healthcare Helps Tackle Elective Care Backlog

With over 7 million people in the UK waiting for elective care, median waiting times almost double pre-Covid waiting times, and a workforce stretched beyond capacity, the British Medical Association (BMA) estimates that it could take up to ten years to get elective care backlogs back to manageable levels.

Induction Healthcare has developed tools to help accelerate the digital transformation so urgently needed to clear elective care backlogs.

Induction Zesty – Patient engagement portal

Induction Zesty is a patient engagement portal that empowers healthcare providers to offer self-directed care management. It follows existing rules and clinical workflows, and seamlessly integrates with other hospital systems, increasing efficiency by reducing administration, maximising slot utilisation, and helping to manage waiting lists.

Patients are invited to register on the hospital’s patient portal, a web app that lets them:

  • book, reschedule, or cancel their appointments
  • view their letters, discharge summaries, and clinical records
  • complete any necessary questionnaires before or after their appointments.

Case study – Milton Keynes University Hospital (MKUH)

Pioneers in digital transformation, MKUH implemented Induction Zesty in 2018. Patients manage their appointments via a fully automated process, with updates written directly into Cerner Millennium, the trust’s patient administration system (PAS) and electronic health record (EHR). When rescheduling, patients see a range of available slots, as determined by the comprehensive customer-defined rulesets in place.

The deep systems integration enables bi-directional communication, supporting fast slot utilisation and capacity management. Patients can view their discharge summaries and clinical correspondence in a near real-time follow up experience, ensuring they are well-informed and up to date.

Since adopting Induction Zesty, MKUH has reported a 50% reduction in ‘did not attends’ (DNA) and missed appointments, and a 20% reduction in calls to booking centres – a quantifiable positive impact on the trust’s capacity to reduce care backlogs. Survey completion rates have also soared, providing the hospital with valuable data to inform service improvements.

Induction Attend Anywhere – Remote consultations

Induction Attend Anywhere is a video call platform purpose built for healthcare. With clinical-grade security and processes that mimic real-world workflows, the platform allows healthcare providers to include remote consultations as a normal part of their service offering.

Patients open a link using their preferred device – mobile phone, tablet, laptop, or computer – from the comfort of their home or workplace. They wait in their own virtual ‘waiting area’, where the service provider joins them and conducts the consultation. Patient details are permanently deleted after the call, ensuring data security.

In addition to running one-on-one consultations, service providers can:

  • host video-based group consultations with up to 60 participants present, for patient cohorts with similar needs
  • instantly convert a phone consultation to a video consultation using the Consult Now feature, when a visual assessment is needed
  • collaborate with colleagues in permanent virtual meeting rooms

Case study – NHS Scotland’s ‘Near Me’ service

NHS Scotland was already using Induction Attend Anywhere, branded as ‘Near Me’, when the pandemic hit. The platform allowed them to quickly switch many of their in-person consultations to remote consultations, where clinically appropriate.

Since the pandemic, Induction Attend Anywhere has become business-as-usual for a range of specialties in NHS Scotland. Patients love the convenience and cost savings, and staff love having the option of hybrid working – one of the BMA’s recommendations for helping retain staff in the wake of the pandemic.

The benefits NHS Scotland staff have noticed include:

  • improved time keeping – it’s easier to keep things running on time, helping ease backlogs
  • lower risk of exposure to infection – safer for both patients and staff
  • better use of the physical space available – no need to find a free consulting room
  • reduced waiting times – efficient triage allows clinicians to plan services better
  • support for virtual wards – patients can be monitored at home after discharge, and some admissions can be avoided
  • equality of service – less-mobile patients receive the same care as those able to travel
  • sustainability and cost savings – less use of personal protective equipment, less need for travel

The future – Deepening ties

As a thought leader in the health tech space, and in collaboration with dynamic NHS innovators, Induction Healthcare is currently developing the natural synergies between Induction Zesty and Induction Attend Anywhere. Patients will be able to join their remote consultations from within the patient portal, further streamlining the process of joining a call.

A deepening of the integration between Induction Zesty and leading PAS/EHR providers is also in development. This will give patients even greater control over their healthcare pathways, and further reduce staff administration time.

Induction Healthcare is proud to be an enabler of the digital transformation so crucial to bringing elective care backlogs under control.

To learn more about Induction Zesty and Induction Attend Anywhere, please visit inductionhealthcare.com

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CCube Solutions on tackling the elective care backlog

CCube Solutions has over 20 years of experience working with the NHS, support trusts and health boards through their electronic document and content management and workflow solutions. The UK SME works with 30 NHS organisations across England to hold and manage 500 million documents.

Tackling the backlog

The challenges facing the NHS with regards to its elective care backlog are well-documented and bring with them a wealth of complications; the huge waiting list, poor patient experience and potential deterioration and staff burnout to name but a few.

An important part of tackling the elective care backlog involves engaging with patients to verify their position on the waiting list. By checking in with patients and their status, NHS organisations can better manage their waiting lists and can potentially reduce pressures if a patient can either self-manage their condition or no longer requires an appointment.

Engaging with patients

CCube Solutions has developed a patient portal to support patients in getting more involved with their care and engaging with clinical teams. The portal allows patients to access selected records online, add information to them, and communicate with healthcare professionals.

Vijay Magon, CEO of CCube Solutions, discussed the patient portal with HTN: “For example, in preparation for scheduled appointments, relevant information can be shared such as weight or blood pressure – and other relevant information about overall healthcare, such as new medications or emergency contacts, family dependencies, etc. This enables health service providers to request pertinent information and data via simple online forms completed by patients, and it will enable patients and service providers to provide this information when it’s convenient to them.

“A hospital can [also] make documents available for patients through the portal. A lot of clinical notes were not written to be read outside the hospital, however, recent referrals, and discharge summaries, can be made available.”

The development of the patient portal quickly moved on to smart-phone based apps, Vijay said, which have been extended to support Patient Initiated Follow Ups.

Vijay commented on the importance of security when it comes to patient-facing solutions. “Because a patient is potentially outside of the healthcare setting, it is important to make sure the information transmitted back and forth is via secure and accepted gateways (N3/HSCN),” he said.

Another key benefit with stronger patient engagement is the outpatient clinic management and attendance management. “For example,” Vijay explained, “if a clinic is running late the patient can get real time information though the app.” Along with supporting patients to make their appointments, this also assists in handling site pressures. “If the patient can leave half an hour later to get to their appointment, this would be preferable as opposed to waiting somewhere outside the clinic.”

Communicating digitally with patients through the portal and apps also brings significant savings in terms of operational cost and delays.

“An average hospital spends about a £1 in postage, stationery and labour to send a patient a letter in the UK to notify them about their outpatient appointment,” Vijay said, “and approximately one million outpatient appointments are sent per hospital per year. With the patient portal we believe we can make a significant dent in this circa one million pounds a year cost.”