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Keeping tabs on rising patient referral figures

It’s no secret that the demands on the UK’s doctors and nurses are increasing all the time, driven by a significant rise in patient referrals over the past decade. Recent figures revealed by the NHS confirmed the headlines of many national newspapers, as it becomes clear that the struggle for efficiency is real.


Here, Lee Copestake, technical director at healthcare scheduling specialist BookWise Solutions discusses how the key to succinct resource utilisation could lie in technology.


While human resources remain finite, there are many other initiatives available to streamline administrative processes and allow staff to focus on providing the most thorough patient care possible. Efficiency is crucial to the success of any business regardless of its goals, be that reduced patient waiting times in hospitals, to increased profit margins for say, a manufacturing business.


According to statistics, the total amount of annual GP referrals has risen significantly over the past nine years, increasing by 33 per cent when comparing figures from September 2017 to the same period in 2008. These numbers, coupled with a growing average life expectancy of the UK population, reflect the rising demand for hospitals and trusts to ensure all measures are taken to provide the highest levels of on-going care possible, employing efficient practices wherever available.


Furthermore, as we head in to the colder winter months, staff will already be well aware of the marked rise in patients as a result of seasonal illnesses. Capacity is a topic that is questioned by UK healthcare providers on a yearly basis – any efforts that can be made to reduce the amount of administrative work on staff, to allow more time with patients during the most vulnerable time of the year should be welcomed.lee copestake


Even now, as the NHS undergoes a digital transformation, many hospitals across the country still rely on outdated paper-based room booking systems. This makes it extremely difficult to co-ordinate efficient use of equipment, rooms and staff in such a fast-paced, constantly changing environment.


Going digital has many benefits aside from the obvious environmental and space-saving impacts. Utilising software allows improved transparency within hospitals and trusts, allowing staff an enhanced picture of the resources available within the facility. Using an online booking service as oppose to traditional diarised paper-based systems can ensure rooms avoid becoming double booked, that the correct members of staff are available, and that important data isn’t lost or compromised. Such a system also enables better management of cancelled clinics, allowing any associated rooms to be recycled.


One UK NHS Trust that has already made strides to address efficiency within its two sites is already reaping significant benefits from replacing written and documented booking systems with BookWise Outpatients digital healthcare scheduling software. It now manages 1,300 monthly outpatients clinics within its regional neuroscience centre, a cancer centre, and a Hyper Acute Stroke unit.


Since installation, the first month saw a 76 per cent approval rate on 301 requests, with approval rates in June rising from 47 per cent to 80 per cent, due to detailed requester knowledge and improved data quality of room availability. With capacity becoming increasingly limited, it’s crucial that other locations look to integrate other time saving practices wherever possible.


For healthcare professionals, the ultimate end-goal is providing the best care and treatment for their patients. In this increasingly demanding sector, adopting new technology is integral to helping automate administrative processes and cut paperwork – saving money, time and allowing a greater focus towards patient care.


August LTD
Grahame Gardner
Mr Trax Curtain & Blind Solutions
Inspired Inspirations
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