Oxford University Hospitals rolls out digital hospital appointments letters

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Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) NHS Foundation Trust has partnered with software company DrDoctor to give all patients the option to view their hospital appointment letters online.

Digital letters were trialed at the trust’s dermatology service and its success has lead to the service being rolled out across more departments. In order to benefit from the service patients need to ensure the trust as a mobile phone number for them. When a letter has been prepared for them, patients will be sent an text message to alert them that it is ready to view online.

An NHS link in the message will direct patients to a DrDoctor Patient Portal where they can view and download letters, which will also be stored online for future reference. Patients can choose to receive all their future letters digitally if they wish to do so.

David Walliker, chief digital and partnership officer at the trust, said: “We are very excited to see this new system rolled out across our whole trust.

“Aside from the convenience for our patients of being able to access their letters in digital form, there will be a significant environmental benefit, which contributes greatly to our aim to become a sustainable organisation for the future.”

If a letter is not opened and viewed, the trust will send a text reminder 24 hours later. After 48 hours, if the letter has still not been viewed, a paper copy will be sent by post.

Patients can also change their mind and reply ‘STOP’ to the next text message to opt out of the system. Craig Lister, the trust’s elective access services and systems manager, added: “With digital letters, patients receive their appointment information much quicker, and this has been very reassuring for them.

“The new digital systems have also increased efficiency, and our team feels very positive about supporting the Trust in its move towards paperless solutions.”

Oxford University Hospitals join Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals (DBTH) NHS Foundation Trust which went live with DrDoctor in 2019.