New service to help NHS trusts hit targets

Bryn Sage, chief executive of Inhealthcare
Bryn Sage, chief executive of Inhealthcare
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Olympus and Inhealthcare have launched a new digital service which aims to cut the number of missed hospital appointments.

The partnership said the service will help NHS trusts to meet Did Not Attend targets, reduce cancer wait times, improve efficiency and enhance the patient experience.

Olympus and Harrogate-based Inhealthcare will collaborate with NHS trusts to deliver a review to transform the entire patient journey, from referral through to post procedure, at a time of increasing demand for endoscopy services (a procedure where the inside of the body is examined).

The partnership said the service, which will be available from early next year, will help empower patients as they navigate their way through the necessary preparations, ensuring they feel more comfortable about their upcoming endoscopy.

They said the service will offer easier access to information than the traditional paper pack and suitable patients will receive communications by email, text or automated call in the days and weeks leading up to the procedure.

This includes an electronic appointment letter, instructions on how to get to the clinic, frequently asked questions and a medical questionnaire to determine their eligibility and pre-assess the patient in advance.

Around five days before the procedure, patients will be sent information about the necessary dietary changes and bowel preparation, with follow-up reminders explaining how and when to act.

Any current medications that need to be halted ahead of the procedure will also be picked up in the pre-assessment stage and the patient will receive tailored messages to remind them to stop at the correct time.

Hospital staff will receive an alert if patients fail to open the communications, creating the opportunity to send further reminders or intervene to ensure the patient is on track to complete the required preparation.

According to "Endoscopy in 2017", a national survey of the practice in the UK, half of the UK’s NHS trusts fail to meet their target of a 5 per cent DNA rate, outside of bowel cancer screening. It is hoped this digital dialogue will help reduce rates enabling them to fall within this limit and reduce cancer wait times, with those hospitals having the highest throughput seeing the most benefit.

In addition it will reduce late cancellations, allow pre-assessment triage, lessen hospital administration time and paper usage, creating efficiency savings and a more environmentally-friendly process.

Graham Popham, general manager market access at Olympus, said: “With unprecedented demand on our endoscopy services and pressures on the NHS workforce we wanted to look at how we can support the NHS within the limitations of existing services.

“DNA rates are a massive opportunity to support the earlier diagnosis goals laid out in the NHS Long Term Plan and help drive efficiency in a system with limited room for growth, as well as patient engagement through education. We hope our partnership will significantly reduce the numbers of wasted procedures, reduce patient wait times and subsequent timelines to diagnosis.

“By partnering with a digital leader like Inhealthcare we can create a simple easy-to-use platform to support patients across the NHS and beyond.”

Bryn Sage, chief executive of Inhealthcare, added: “We are proud to be partnering with Olympus to combat cancer in this way.

"The NHS Long Term Plan has set out an ambition to detect bowel cancers earlier and reduce the screening age from 60 to 50. NHSX has committed digital experts to national cancer teams to help clinicians improve patient experience.

“Our partnership with Olympus will help on both fronts, empowering patients and clinicians and creating capacity within hospitals to focus care on those who need it the most.

“This technology will reduce wasted appointments and has the potential to be scaled across the UK.”