digital outpatients innovation exchange

Exploring digital solutions to modernise outpatient services

The NHS Long Term Plan introduced a target to reduce face-to-face outpatient appointments by up to a third over the next five years by 2023/24. In the plan, NHS England suggested this can be achieved ​by making better use of technology and virtual consultations, which will give patients greater flexibility and control over how they receive care and cut down on unnecessary appointments.

One of the challenges faced by health providers to meet this challenge is knowing which digital tools are effective, how they can be embedded in their pathways and how to demonstrate the value to colleagues.

Eastern AHSN appealed to healthcare innovators across the world to share their solutions as part of our innovation exchange programme.

An expert panel assessed each submission against five challenge statements that outlined the needs of the local healthcare system:

  • Improving the patient experience
  • Improving capacity in outpatient clinics
  • How to build and deliver a digital future
  • Improving financial inefficiencies
  • Improving clinical outcomes

Fourteen market-ready innovations were invited to join us at a matching event along with 55 decision-makers from hospital trusts, primary care and NHS commissioning organisations. The matching event gave delegates an opportunity to hear success stories, learn more about national priorities and discuss and forge partnerships to accelerate the adoption of tools within local services.

We have since had expressions of interest from delegates for all the innovations.

“Digital is not the solution; it is the enabler” – Erica White

Erica White from Mid and South Essex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust digital outpatients

Erica White from Mid and South Essex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust shared the lessons learned from her work transforming outpatient services across her local system with digital tools. The ‘virtual polyclinics’ her team have implemented mange the whole patient journey from first contact with primary care to completion of secondary care episode. She stressed the importance of ensuring change is clinically led and system wide, with executive sponsorship to ensure buy in.

“50% of patients would rather receive an NHS letter through their phone than by post” – Lisa Hollins

Delegates were delighted by the chance to have open conversations with potential partners, including one who said: “what a fantastic event… Great organisation and really tailored to innovators and stakeholders!”

Lisa Hollins NHSX digital outpatients

This local case study was contextualised by Lisa Hollins, Director of Innovation Delivery at NHSX, who celebrated the impact already being seen from apps and wearables as just one example of how technology can be used to empower patients and the work of NHSX in scaling  digital innovations.

Jenny Mooney NHS England and Improvement - digital outpatients

Jenny Mooney​, Head of System Improvement for Elective Care in the East of England​ at NHS England and Improvement, spoke about other local success stories and the ongoing work the NHS is undertaking across the region to improve services.

You can read the booklet produced for the event which showcases the 14 innovations here.

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