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Promoting the Patient Portal: increasing digital patient engagement & routine follow-up

Epic (MyCare) has recently been introduced at our Trust. This presents a valuable opportunity to increase engagement of patients, before and after care episodes, through the Patient Portal.

Read comments 4
  • Shortlisted idea
  • 2022

Meet the team

Also:

  • Dr Thomas Clark
  • Dr Alistair Helliwell
  • Andrew Lockwood
  • Dr Guy Mizon

What is the challenge your project is going to address and how does it connect to the theme?

Communication and feedback of the patient experience are crucial to improve patient safety and care for the individual patient, as well as for the population. In addition, these two elements can enhance the interactions between the patient and the clinical teams in the long-term.

Our trust has recently introduced the electronic patient record. For the first time, patients are able to access and add data to their patient record, via the Patient Portal application. We are hoping to build add-ons to the Patient Portal which can prompt patients to complete follow-up forms. The responses to these will enable the clinical team to signpost appropriately and more effectively triage the waiting list for follow-up reviews (18 month waiting list currently, 50% patient uptake).

This presents a unique opportunity to increase engagement with patients on various aspects of their care, and to attempt to triage the follow-up waiting list, through digital technology.

What does your project aim to achieve?

Our aim is two-fold; firstly to increase the number of patients accessing this service, and secondly to improve upon how this application can best serve the patient and clinical team.

Our first avenue will be to set up up routine patient experience feedback after an episode of patient care. For Intensive Care patients, we will add in specific questionnaire elements in this feedback. This will help us reach more patients on the follow-up list (improving the current 50% uptake rate), and triage them appropriately for clinic visits (reduced waiting time for those who need it the most).

The additional benefits foreseen will be to enhance communication between patients and clinical teams, and to generate meaningful data for improvement for patient safety and quality of care.

How will the project be delivered?

We have recruited a small team of engaged clinicians, and plan to recruit a technology expert from Epic/My Care to help navigate the digital side of the project. We will recruit a Band 4 staff member (already in post; three half-day sessions per week).

Two arms of the project will run concomitantly; increasing patient engagement with the digital service and generating a process for routine patient experience follow-up to be captured.

We will start with patients whose pathways have involved Intensive Care, with the aim to expand this to other specialties. We will engage patients prior to discharge, with the expectation of a digital prompt to fill in feedback at set intervals.

We will be able to measure the impact of this project through: numbers of patients accessing the Patient Portal, quality data generated through feedback mechanisms, changes to the waiting list, scope of further improvement work derived from this data.

How is your project going to share learning?

We are aiming to develop a pathway through which patients are invited and encouraged to join the Patient Portal, and to be more directly involved in their care. The feedback gained from patients has a real-time ability to impact upon the waiting list for follow-up care. By using digital technology, we are aiming to achieve this process with minimal extra clinician time required.

The uptake from this engagement drive, and the additional patient experience data generated, will provide useful learning for other Trusts who may be undergoing similar digital transformation with the introduction of an electronic patient record. We hope to share a summary of our monthly data collected: number of patients accessing the portal, feedback received, impact upon waiting list.

We are anticipating known and unknown barriers to this format of patient engagement. Navigating through these will also provide valuable learning for all Q members intent on improvement.

How you can contribute

  • Any experience from others with engaging patients with new technology, particularly with elderly patients, would be much appreciated.
  • We are also keen to hear about successful sustainability practice found for maintaining the engagement of patients in the long term.

Plan timeline

30 Jun 2022 Build of Patient Portal add-ons
31 Aug 2022 Patient engagement with Patient Portal (Band 4 role starting)
30 Sep 2022 Begin prompting/collecting patient feedback and follow-up
31 Oct 2022 Rolling monthly data review begins

Comments

  1. Hello Rebecca, I think this sounds like a great development of the patient record, and will contribute to patient led and patient centred healthcare. At the other end of the age spectrum our project (One Big Front Door for children's community health) is aimed at digitally supporting access to our community health services. We would be really interested to share learning with you and how our respective projects develop.

  2. This sounds like a great idea! Anything which makes sure we listen to our service users more has got to be a good thing.

  3. Rebecca - hi. I am leading a patient engagement project (see 'who is afraid of mental health triage?") that covers some the same ground. Epic software certainly seems to cover a very wide area.

    When working in old age psychiatry I would almost always involve family or carers - incorporating consent / capacity item will allow you to include this patient group (who are heavily over represented in medical and orthopaedic intakes).

    1. Hi Robert, thanks for this comment - and your suggestion. We have discussed that the frailer patients who often make up an ICU cohort are not always able to provide follow-up data on their own behalf. This means they may slip through regular follow-up channels. The idea of incorporating consent and/or capacity to the digital side of patient portals is a good one, and I'm sure, a challenge. With the engagement side of our project, this will certainly be an element to prioritise.

      Your work looks really interesting too. The real-time nature of the feedback is very promising. I worked with the Northumbria Patient Experience Network a couple of years ago (my team was based in South Devon) and we were able to instigate real-time improvement processes for patients, in addition to providing a lot of positive feedback to staff that was directly relevant to them.

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