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E-Referrals exciting developments at Yeovil Hospital

The new e-Referral system is still bedding in but news this week of Yeovil Hospital implementing a full e-booking appointment system. With full inter action with smartphones and handheld devices this is exiting news. Yeovil is  one of 29 pilot hospitals taking forward the use of patient focused apps to manage their healthcare.

A key aspiration of the new e-Referral system was to include follow up appointments which offers far greater cost savings and efficiencies than just the initial new referrals. Hospitals need to move away from a system of blindly selecting a date and time, printing a letter plus the cost of postage and expecting all patients to cancel their commitments and attend as asked. Choice

The reality is more costs are generated as patients then take staff and switchboard capacity to handle a continuous demand to reschedule the appointment to one that fits in with the patients work and home commitments. Potentially Did Not Attend rates will also drop, dramatically releasing up to 30 % more appointment capacity.

It is time that medical staff stopped jumping on every glitch this system experiences as a failure. The 29 pilots and the HSCIC team must be given the time and space to move this technology on.

Matthew Syed in his recent book Black Box Thinking highlighted the closed system thinking of the health professionals and compares this to the aviation industry approach of  learning from what can be catastrophic failure. He also highlights the highly successful approach in technology advances of testing new approaches and rapidly learning from glitches. With the 29 pilots and a leading edge open system running in the background, the wider health system providers need to recognise this as one to follow closely .

Leading international technology companies such as Apple have already embedded its Health App into its smartphone and Calendar and Maps seamlessly link together. The development in the UK of the e-Booking system and the Electronic Patient Record are exiting steps towards a siesmic change in the relationship between health care providers and the patient. The change may be so profound that we are no longer the subservient patient but can at last be seen as a person and respected as such.