The University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust has launched patient flow management software as part of its Think Big project aimed at tackling the backlog of outpatient appointments.

With a waiting list of some 110,000 patients the trust’s project has developed novel ideas for reducing it – including taking over a floor of a large department store in the Dolphin Shopping Mall in Poole to expand room for seeing patients. Technology is also playing a key role in the programme of innovations designed to manage the backlog.

Mark Mould, chief operating officer at the trust, said: “We are determined to do everything we can to help work through our waiting list as quickly as possible. By thinking ‘Big’, and differently, UHD [University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust] is looking at innovative ways to reduce the lengthy elective care waiting lists.

“This Think Big project is a novel and ambitious transformation plan to provide high volume, low complexity face-to-face outpatient appointments, using processes developed from the running of the mass vaccine centres.”

Helping with the operation is Intouch with Health – who will play a key role in the management of patients. InTouch with Health was already in operation at Poole Hospital, but since its merger with Bournemouth – which used a different patient administration systems (PAS) – the resulting trust needed to integrate both PAS so that it could simultaneously manage data from outpatients attending appointments at the department store and those who attend a hospital site for appointments.

Mould continued: “Integration of patient data and efficient and effective patient flow management is key to this idea working efficiently, and we are pleased to be partnering with Intouch with Health to help us make it happen.”

Intouch with Health’s patient Flow Manager dash board will enable staff to access a central, digital dashboard for an oversight of individual patients during appointments. In addition its Wait Time Manager, Patient Check-in and Patient Calling modules have also launched.

Patients will be able to check in for scheduled appointments from their own digital devices once they arrive, which will help to support social distancing and give them extra convenience.

Peter Beaumont, sales director at Intouch with Health, added: “Integration is key to the success of this initiative and staff across the whole trust need to access a single view of all outpatient appointments and associated patient information at any given time across the four sites.”