University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust has launched a suite of digital patient engagement tools in partnership with DrDoctor.

The trust is looking at new ways of delivering outpatient care and hopes the technology will save time for staff and patients and reduce in-person hospital visits.

Using DrDoctor’s tools, patients can now view hospital letters online and take part in video consultations from their smartphone, tablets or laptops.

Hospital staff can also use the tools to reduce the time spent managing the booking process, with appointment reminders sent automatically to patients.

Since the new solutions were introduced, staff at the trust have sent almost 55,000 appointment notifications to patients by text messages and email. It’s expected that the number of do not attends will fall by 35%.

The same rate was seen at neighbouring specialist trust the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which has also implemented DrDoctor’s technology.

Alongside appointment reminders, more than 24,000 digital letters have been sent out, with around 60% of patients choosing to view these online. For patients who do not view the letters online, letters are sent in the post.

The video consultation functionality integrates with the electronic patient record at the trust which avoids the need for some patients to travel into the hospital.

Nick Barlow, director of applied digital healthcare at the trust, said: “Like all NHS trusts, we have had to transform how care is delivered to our patients. By working with DrDoctor, we have been able to move the trust’s digital-first plans forwards, allowing us to deliver some consultations remotely.

“The digital appointment tools should also provide greater patient choice in the future, with patients currently able to read outpatient appointment correspondence online.

“These tools are an important building block in our longer terms plans to improve patient care by introducing new technology and innovations.”

DrDoctor’s technology was rolled out across outpatient services following rapid-fire pilots in February and March 2021. University Hospitals Birmingham joins Oxford University Hospitals and 32 other NHS trusts which all use DrDoctor technology.

Wahida Jabarzai, delivery manager at DrDoctor, added: “This programme saw many months of work shrunk into just a handful of weeks.

“UHB rapidly embraced our digital patient engagement platform to meet the needs of their local populations. This is testament to their future-orientated mindset, commendable work ethic and collaboration skills.

“UHB are true leaders in their area and showed dedication to their patients through great organisation skills and thorough testing of trust-wide technology.”

The trust intends to introduce new features later in the year allowing patients to chose their appointment time and book an earlier slot if one becomes available.