Hospital patients to get appointment ‘letters’ in a new way

Hospital patients to receive digital appointment 'letters'

Hospital patients to get appointment ‘letters’ in a new way

Patients in Grimsby and Scunthorpe will soon be receiving their hospital appointment letters via their mobile phones.

Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust (NLaG) is moving over to digital letters for outpatient appointments, meaning people will no longer have to wait for an appointment letter to arrive in the post or call the hospital to rebook if they can’t make the date.

Instead patients will be sent a text with a link to an online portal where they will be able to confirm, rebook or cancel their appointment at the click of a button.

The system is due to launch this winter and, says NLaG, is safe and secure. People will need to put in their date-of-birth and a pin number from the text message to retrieve their letter.

Should the digital letter not be opened within 48 hours the system will automatically print and post a copy out to their home address.

Jackie France, general manager for patient access, said: “This is an exciting project for the Trust which will see big improvements to our outpatient appointments system.

“As well as being quick and easy for patients to use, it will also help us make information more accessible as people will be able to view the letter in different languages and text sizes and even have it read out to them.”

There are also benefits for hospital staff, as Jackie said: “Our administration teams will receive real time information on which patients have requested to cancel or rebook their appointments. This will free up appointment slots for other patients and make our whole booking process more efficient.”

Ahead of the move to digital letters people are being asked to ensure the hospital has their current mobile number by emailing to update their contact details.

Kenny Bloxham, managing director of Healthcare Communications, which is providing the Trust with the patient portal software, said: “We’re working with 20 NHS Trusts to implement digital letters already and in addition to the many benefits for patients, the Trust can expect to see a reduction in the number of patients missing appointments as well as considerable savings on printing costs.”

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