Digital admission letters are on the way for patients attending hospitals in Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Goole as an inpatient or day case.
Instead of a paper copy people will get a text message with a link to a digital letter letting them know about their admission to hospital and what they need to do to prepare.
It means patients will no longer have to wait for their letter to arrive in the post or call the hospital and wait in a queue to rebook if they can’t make the date; instead they’ll get their admission letter digitally and straight to their mobile phone.
The text message has a link to an online portal where they’ll be able to confirm, rebook or cancel their admission at the click of a button. By accessing the portal patients can view all their letters in one place, download a copy to their device and can also add the date to their calendar as a reminder.
We also send SMS reminders so patients will also get a text message 7 days before they’re due to come into hospital and again 48 hours before reminding them of the time and where to attend.
The system, which is already live for Outpatient appointments, 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.
The rollout will be a phased approach with patients under Trauma and Orthopaedics, Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT), Breast surgery, Oral surgery and Ophthalmology being the first to receive digital admission letters starting from mid-August. Other specialties are set to follow in September.
Should the digital letter not be opened within 48 hours the system will automatically print and post a copy out to their address.
Jackie France, Associate Director for Patient Services, said: “We already send the majority of outpatient letters digitally, and since we introduced them we’ve saved more than £100,000 in printing and postage costs and we’ve seen a reduction in the number of patients failing to turn up to their appointments.
“We’ve listened to patient feedback and have extended the amount of time people have to open their letter – we’ve increased it from 24 to 48 hours.
“As well as being quick and easy for patients to use, digital letters are more accessible as people can view the letter in different languages and text sizes and even have it read out to them.
“If you receive a text message from ‘NHS NLaG’, please be assured it is genuine and from us; we know from the outpatient digital letter rollout that some people were worried the messages may have been a scam.
Patients have been giving their feedback on the letters. Colin, who is visually impaired, said: “What a revelation! I was able to read a letter addressed to me without needing ‘an outsider’ to read a private and confidential letter to me. Thank you, what a difference this is going to make!
Wendy wrote to us to say how delighted she was with her digital letter. She said: “I just wanted to give you feedback on the patient portal – it is excellent. So easy to use and time saving.”
Ahead of the move to digital admission letters people are being asked to ensure the hospital has their current mobile number by emailing email@example.com with their name, address, date of birth and NHS number (if they know it) to update their contact details.
Anyone who does not wish to receive digital communications from the Trust are able to opt out by using the same email address.