North West London Integrated Care System has selected DrDoctor to deliver its patient portal to help tackle the waiting list backlog in the region and boost patient engagement. 

The new system will help to redistribute capacity across the Integrated Care System (ICS), by linking available appointments at all of its four trusts. Cancelled appointments can be reallocated with as little as 24 hours’ notice to other patients within the ICS. Capacity will be released and redistributed throughout the ICS which will help tackle the backlog across north west London, not just at a trust level.

The DrDoctor solution will standardise the way trusts engage with their patients across Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, The Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust, and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

Patients will benefit from the new portal, as it will allow them to manage appointments irrespective of their location, enabling them to request, book, reschedule and cancel slots digitally.

In addition, the portal will validate waiting lists through tools such as digital patient-initiated follow-ups (PIFU) and clinical questionnaires.

Robbie Cline, chief information officer at Hillingdon Hospitals and London North West, said: “The ICS has very specific needs when it comes to delivering services to patients, centred around making experiences of care consistent throughout the ICS. We have been encouraged by feedback from Chelsea and Westminster, especially the patient uptake and how well the system interoperates with other technologies, such as the Cerner EPR.”

“By giving patients the option to engage and request a slot that is convenient, they are far more likely to turn up. This helps us make best use of our capacity by minimising did not attend (DNA) rates, which means we can plan our workforce much more effectively, even at short notice.”

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has been using the DrDoctor portal since 2019 and has more than 75% of its patients opting to interact through it. The trust has been able to significantly reduce the burden on administration teams for manual tasks, as well as reduce waiting lists by 30%.

Based on the use of the portal at Chelsea and Westminster, it is expected that the ability to stratify waiting lists with text message questionnaires will reduce waiting lists by as much as 35% across the entire ICS.

The other three trusts in the ICS are expected to go live with the portal by the end of 2024.

Tom Whicher, chief executive, DrDoctor, said: “We hope this project can be used as a blueprint for other ICSs, especially as non-specialist trusts consider how to make use of the national funding for patient portals. When there is a joined-up approach to care coordination, the benefits to patients, and to clinicians, will have a transformative impact.”