Patients in Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Goole will start receiving their hospital appointment letters via their mobile phones from next week.
Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust is moving over to digital letters for outpatient appointments, meaning people will no longer have to wait for a 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’ll be able to confirm, rebook or cancel their appointment at the click of a button.
A test text message was sent out last week to all patients who are currently undergoing or waiting for treatment that the Trust has a mobile phone number for.
The system 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.
There’s no need to worry about missing a letter either as if the digital letter is not opened within 48 hours the system will automatically print and post a copy out to their home address. Anyone the Trust does not have a mobile phone number for will continue to receive a copy of their letter through the post.
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 explained: “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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 26 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.”