DrDoctor’s journey to help deliver a digital first NHS

Back in 2016/17 we were fortunate enough to find ourselves with a place on the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator. Undoubtedly, the programme has been a crucial step in DrDoctor’s journey to help deliver a digital first NHS. We’re now working with 36 trusts and more than 10 million patients across the country, addressing care coordination challenges with digital tools to make patients an active participant in their care.

Since being on the Accelerator, we have been working with organisations across the NHS to support their digital ambitions. At University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB), we are supporting their journey towards becoming a digital first trust and it has been amazing to see the incredible results they’re achieving. Since deploying our scheduling tool, which allows patients to choose an appointment time to suit them, Did Not Attend (DNA) rates have dropped by as much as 35%. The same results have also been seen at The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Such a simple solution has been instrumental in helping both trusts to tackle the backlog and prove that digital transformation doesn’t need to be a daunting task.

Throughout the pandemic, we turned our focus to dealing with the backlog, as a matter of national interest. One often overlooked element that contributes to the backlog is the time taken to carry out administrative tasks. At Chelsea and Westminster Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, we have been helping them to digitise entire pathways to help coordinate patient care better and release time away from admin tasks. In their endoscopy department, we have been able to speed up the preoperative process by an average of 25%. At West Middlesex Hospital, the time taken to complete a preoperative assessment reduced from 32 minutes to 12 minutes. Patients were able to answer a series of yes/no questions through our platform instead of needing to take the time for a phone call from the hospital. This has released an impressive amount of capacity to care.  

We realised that patients are now becoming more and more comfortable with digital tools in their care pathway. At UHB, 60% of patients are viewing their appointment letters online, meaning they are actively choosing to interact with their healthcare providers in digital ways. What’s more, patient engagement with our platform has increased by more than 900% since the pandemic began, and these levels of usage have remained high, even as lockdowns have eased.

Exciting things are happening. Patients have never been more engaged, digital tools have never been more widely used, and a digital first NHS is in sight. The pandemic became a use case for digital tools in healthcare, and the benefits have been well and truly realised. Innovation doesn’t need to be scary, and it certainly shouldn’t be complicated. The simplest solutions can produce the most impactful results, and bit by bit we are transforming the NHS into a digital powerhouse that delivers world class patient care. The journey we have been on in recent years wouldn’t have been possible without the Digital Health.London Accelerator programme, so thank you to everyone that had faith in us!

DigitalHealth.London is delighted to publish blogs by the NHS staff and digital health companies we support through our programmes, as well as sector thought-leaders, experts and academics. Any opinions expressed within blogs published on our website are those of the author and not necessarily held by DigitalHealth.London. For more information, or if you would like to write a blog for our website, please email info@digitalHealth.london.