Giving NHS patients more control over their own care
New features in the NHS App improve patient experience and support elective care recovery, as well as helping reduce ongoing pressure on the health service
A big leap forward in providing NHS patients with more direct control over their care - including allowing them to manage their hospital appointments - is being rolled out in participating trusts across England.
Finding ways to reduce pressures on the NHS took on more urgency as elective care capacity was reduced during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As trusts worked to support unprecedented demand on emergency and non-elective care, elective care waiting lists rose.
The Accelerated Capability Environment (ACE) has been a strategic partner in one of the newer and more innovative ways to help tackle this – developing new features for hospital appointments in the NHS App, which is fast becoming the digital ‘front door’ to the NHS.
The new features include the ability to see all appointments and referrals in one place in the NHS App, as well as book, change and cancel hospital appointments. Currently, these are live in the 28 acute trusts across the seven English NHS regions which have this functionality. Many more are expected to join them over the coming months.
ACE has been working with suppliers from ACE’s Vivace community of industry expertise, as well as NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care, since January 2022. A proof-of-concept application programming interface (API) aggregator was built quickly, then developed into a beta in April 2022 due to the need to use live patient data in testing.
ACE has been key to:
- surfacing data from multiple hospital patient admission systems and Patient Engagement Portals (PEPs)
- developing a sophisticated system of APIs to gather and aggregate this data
- accelerating delivery speed by working as an integrated part of the NHS team
- developing an app style in keeping with the wider NHS App ecosystem, so that patients have confidence in the service, and that it is part of a joined-up system.
An added value was the speed at which ACE could bring suppliers on board, including individual PEP providers, which enable digital interaction with NHS services.
Providing better access to information and services is designed to improve patient experience, as well as enable conditions to be managed more effectively. Minimising the number of missed appointments, meanwhile, will free up appointments for those who need them, reducing waiting times and making more efficient use of clinicians’ time.
The next phase of the programme will see further features launched in the NHS App for patients in participating trusts. These will include receiving notifications and messages, the ability to complete pre-consultation questionnaires and being able to access documents relating to their appointments.