The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust has launched the Healthcare Communications’ Patient Portal and as a result has seen a reduction in Did Not Attends (DNA) and cost savings by reducing paper letters.

The solution has been deployed across 148 outpatient departments in a bid to revolutionise patient engagement, experience and to meet national targets to reduce waiting list backlogs.

The implementation process started in March this year, and the trust is anticipating it will see significant costs on its former printing efforts alone, including cost savings of at least £10,000 and time savings of 780 hours a year.

In the four months since implementation, the trust has avoided 7,329 missed appointments, and reduced the DNA rate by 5%. This has allowed it to make progress in working efficiently through its backlog of patients on the waiting list.

Neill Crump, digital strategy director at The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, said: “With the rollout of the patient portal, we’re already seeing improved engagement and participation, as well as countless benefits relating to ease of use for staff, time saved and reduced DNAs.”

The new digital communication method is optional and patients are free to opt out and instead receive paper communications.

In addition, the new portal allows for communications to be translated to more than 100 languages, as well as offering other accessibility features like background colour changes and increasing font sizes.

Kenny Bloxham, healthcare director at Healthcare Communications, said:  “We’re excited about our partnership with Dudley NHS Foundation Trust, and the benefits it unlocks for patients and NHS staff across the region.

“With DNAs costing the NHS upwards of £1bn per year, we encourage more organisations to take proactive steps to reduce missed appointments by switching to digital-first communication.”

The Dudley Group is one of the 135 NHS Trusts using the Healthcare Communications’ technology. In March this year Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust worked with Healthcare Communications to launch new features to the NHS App for its patients.

Walsall Healthcare Trust and Sandwell and West Birmingham from the Black Country ICS are also due to go live with the Patient Portal shortly.