New text messaging service saves service time and money
Gynaecology service creates new outpatient letter system via SMS
Launching a new system
University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) are launching an eLetters system which will allow patients to receive their outpatient appointment letters via a secure text messaging system. This system was developed following positive feedback from focus groups.
How does it work?
Patients will receive a text message to their mobile phone containing a secure link to their appointment letter and a pin number to access the UHMBT eLetters system. To ensure that all patients receive their letters, if a digital letter is not accessed within 48 hours an alert on the Lorenzo Electronic Patient Record system will be generated and a letter will be posted to the patient’s address.
The system does not require a patient to own a smartphone, as the text message can be sent to all mobile phones and the eLetters system can be accessed online via a web browser on other devices. The letters also provide patients with further details on how to cancel or reschedule appointments if necessary. There are future plans to add further functions to the eLetters system to allow for cancellations, rescheduling, linking to device calendars, and help with making travel plans to the clinic by linking to Google Maps.
Is it safe?
Yes. To prevent unlawful access to a letter, an additional security question is included, and patients must verify their Date of Birth prior to gaining access to the letter. Should a patient delete the text by accident, the system also sends a further reminder closer to the appointment date.
How does this help the Trust?
This system not only allows patients to receive notification of their appointments quicker, but it also increases staff capacity, as outpatient clerks will have time for other tasks and to spend engaging with patients. It is estimated that the service will save the Trust a total of £57,000 annually and significantly reduce their carbon footprint.
“This new way of working really shows how we are moving forward as a Trust through the use of digital and technology. The eLetters system will help to free up staff time to allow them to spend more time engaging with patients and focus on other key tasks.” Alison Whiteside, Patient Access Manager, UHMBT
To keep patients informed, the Trust have also developed a poster for staff to put up in clinics and a dedicated webpage. Other NHS trusts have also implemented new outpatient booking systems using SMS messaging. Please click on the trust names below to learn more:
- London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust
- Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust