PAPER appointment letters are soon to be a thing of the past at Bradford Teaching Hospitals.
Digital appointment letters are now being trialled in Ophthalmology and Paediatrics, with patients or their parents or guardians receiving a text message with a link which takes them to a digital appointment letter.
Andrew Mullan, Service Improvement Lead, at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Previously patients received their appointment letters through the post, but this new move to digital means they can access their appointment letters wherever they are. They don’t have to wait for the post.
“They will receive a text message notifying them that they have a new appointment letter to view online. Then they follow the link in the text message, which takes them to a secure patient portal where they verify their identity with name, date-of-birth and postcode. A one-time code is sent to their mobile and then they click to view and download their letter.
“The new system will also give patients the option of changing their appointment if they are unable to make the original time and date. They don’t have to spend time ringing the hospital and finding someone to speak to.”
The new game-changing technology is being rolled out in partnership with Synertec and DrDoctor, and is set to save around £100,000 a year in postage costs alone. Currently, Bradford Teaching Hospitals sends out over 1.5 million letters every year.
“The digital system also shows the Trust if the letter remains unread,” added Andrew. “If that is the case, a paper letter will be sent out automatically as a back-up. Currently, between 80 and 85 per cent of patients Trust-wide are contacted by text message about their appointments so for them the next step is a simple one; they just click on the link to see their letter.
“Sending letters digitally also means we can update information more easily as conditions change – for example during the COVID-19 pandemic where more appointments are via telephone or video or where we ask patients not to turn up at the hospital until the appointed time. We can also include links to parking at the hospital or directions and so on.
“Patients just now need to ensure that our receptionists have their correct mobile number, full name, date-of-birth and postcode. If they didn’t have a smartphone themselves, they can also nominate a family member of carer, who would be able to receive the appointment letters on their behalf.”
In addition, patients can now request their paper letters to be in easy-read, large print or braille.
Digital letters are now being trialled in Ophthalmology and Paediatrics, but are expected to be rolled out to further departments throughout the Trust at the end of the month.
Wahida Jabarzai, Delivery Manager, DrDoctor, said: “Bradford Teaching Hospitals’ switch to digital letters will lead to fewer missed appointments and better and more timely care for patients. It will also lower the cost of administration, freeing up more resources for patient care.
“We look forward to working with the Transformation Team and clinicians at Bradford Teaching Hospitals to bring even more practice areas online over the coming months.”
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