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Slashed waiting times lead to shortlisting for prestigious healthcare award

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Care UK’s Emerson Green NHS Treatment Centre has been shortlisted for a prestigious national healthcare award for the use of technology to manage patients’ journeys through the outpatients department.

The whole department, including clinicians, have worked together to create a system that reduces the length of patient visits by an average of 40 per cent.

The innovative use of the centre’s existing patient management IT system has led to its receiving a place in the Value and Improvement in Information Technology category at the 2014 Health Service Journal (HSJ) Value in Healthcare Awards, which will be held on 23 September at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London.

It was the team’s innovation in adapting technology to respond to patient feedback and improve satisfaction levels by more than 10 per cent that led the judges to shortlist the entry.

Mona Van Wyk, head of nursing and clinical services at the centre, said: “Our patient satisfaction level had dropped, which is unusual. We worked to get detailed patient feedback and they told us that they were waiting too long in the centre for their outpatients appointment.”

The answer was created by the centre’s outpatient coordinator Liz Foster-Hall, who utilised and adapted the existing patient management IT system to show a detailed minute-by-minute account of where every patient was within the pathway during their visit - and what was causing the bottlenecks that led to delays.

Mona said: “It was a revelation. It enabled us to see very clearly the small procedural and administrative slowdowns that caused the delays and reduced patient satisfaction.

“For example it could reveal that on one day the number of blood tests and wound-dressings scheduled for the nurse clinics could cause delays for those people waiting for surgical pre-assessment. This has enabled us to manage waiting patients more effectively by protecting pre-assessment time.”

The system has also cut down on the number of pre-assessments that need to be carried out a second time due to administrative requirements by identifying how these could be avoided.

Mona said: “This has so many benefits for patients, not only because of the reduced waiting times but also because we can see if any additional training is needed in any part of our teams.”

Mona also says that morale has improved within the unit as staff feel less pressured and they can focus all their attention on patients rather than paperwork.

The shortlisted organisations, chosen from a record number of entries to the HSJ, will now complete presentations and interviews to a specific judging panel made up of senior and influential figures from the health sector. They will be looking for evaluation, meticulous processes that ensure the optimum systems, a patient-centred approach, the adaptation of existing forms for use in new ways and a comprehensive training strategy to ensure that everyone using the technology achieves optimum efficiency and effectiveness.

Liz said: “I was stunned and delighted when I heard we had reached the finals. The new HSJ Value in Healthcare Awards seek to reward examples of demonstrable improvements in patient experience, efficiencies for the NHS  and positive outcomes for our patients and that is what drove this project from the very start.”

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