Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust (NLAG) has launched new features to the NHS App to transform how patients access and manage their appointments.

The new features currently allow patients to see and manage their GP referrals and hospital appointments. With time they will also be able to see their letters and waiting times too.

Allowing patients more access to their appointment bookings as well as making it easier to book, cancel or reschedule appointments will help to reduce the number of missed appointments.

Northern Lincolnshire and Goole is one of 23 NHS acute trusts to launch the new features, which are part of the Wayfinder programme.

The programme forms part of a national strategy led by NHS England to improve patient experiences and to tackle waiting list backlogs.

The initiative is designed to be vendor-agnostic, with patient communication suppliers from each of the participating trusts working together with NHS England for a consistent service.

For Northern Lincolnshire and Goole patients, Healthcare Communications worked closely with the national programme team to integrate the trust’s patient portal into the NHS App.

Shauna McMahon, chief information officer at the trust, said: “We are committed to advancing our digital technology to enhance patient care, providing improved patient experience and reaping the rewards through better operational efficiencies.

“This project will help us to build on the significant gains that we have already seen following the introduction of our Healthcare Communications digital patient engagement portal.”

Northern Lincolnshire and Goole originally launched its patient portal in June 2021. Since doing so, the more-than 500,000 appointment letters sent digitally have saved the trust £171,000 in print and administration costs. In addition, SMS reminders have seen then number of missed appointments drop from 10% to 7%.

Integration to the NHS App happened in mid-February this year.

Kenny Bloxham, managing director at Healthcare Communications, said: “We are delighted to work with NHS England, partner organisations and the team at NLAG to expand the functionality of the NHS App and help more people to access the services that they need digitally.”

He added: “We are now looking to support NLAG as we expand the reach of the digital communications provided via the NHS App.”

Back in August last year, Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust moved to digital letters to ensure patients received timely notifications for inpatient or day case admissions.