As waiting list levels reach an all-time high across the NHS, the need to validate waiting lists has never been more of an urgent priority. Exacerbated by Covid-19, figures demonstrate that, from an all-time low of less than 500 in 2013, patients waiting for more than a year has increased to more than 380,000. Further, cancer referrals and treatment time performance against set targets are also seeing significant erosion.
The backlog, overall, is now more than 6.8 million patients.
Ultimately, patient well-being and, in some cases, lives are being put at risk. The elephant in the room is very much the waiting list and, more importantly, the need for workable solutions to this problem. Whilst NHSE recognises this, via recent elective recovery plans and national priority and operational guidance, effective solutions are required. In the meantime, NHS Trusts are under significant pressure to demonstrate workable solutions to their waiting lists; to manage, validate and report.
Telephony-based approach not fit for purpose
Traditional approaches to the management of waiting lists have often been one of self-management within many NHS organisations. Specialities and individual consultants monitor their own list; adjusting based on patient feedback and demand. Where Trusts have moved to centralised management of waiting lists, in both scenarios, the communication method of choice is often the 145-year-old telephone.
Whilst being ubiquitous, when significant validation of patients is required, the telephone requires significant resources and time. Furthermore, with challenges of tracking follow-up calls, outcomes and audits, the ability to respond to wide scale waiting list validation is stark. Typically, an operator can successfully contact and validate 30 patients during the day. When, on average, an organisation has circa. 40,000 patients to contact, the task is likely to become a major burden on already over-stretched staff.
What’s the solution?
Technology has long suggested ways of improving and automating such manual processes. The ask however is not only of a waiting list validation solution that is workable but is both rapid to deploy and cost-effective due to the pressing nature of this problem. A solution that easily accesses your existing waiting list data and provides SMS messaging to patients. Simply asking them whether their appointment is still needed or not.
Our Waiting List Validation solution goes one step further. It can highlight the patient’s wait time and ask a question relating to it; provided by specialty, customisable responses. Have you sought treatment privately? Would you wish to delay your treatment? Are you experiencing more severe symptoms? Would you wish to remain on the list pending confirmation of treatment in the future?
Responses are typically above 75% after 36 hours with, on average, 7.5% of responses requesting removal from the list. Review and audit is provided using a web-based portal with an automated work-list. Your clinicians decide who can review and action the responses.
Traditionally, such implementations are time-consuming and require significant internal resources. There are aspects of integration to consider. Noting the need to provide an immediate result, we provide ‘CSV’ input of your waiting lists and, as desired, web-based reporting, audit and/or CSV export.
Implementation time is rapid – less than 10 days and light on your infrastructure and staff time.