In 2017, outpatients were attended by 64 million people, costing the NHS more than £8bn.
Transformation of outpatient services has long been on the NHS agenda, albeit largely on a conceptual level – owing in part to more pressing demands elsewhere.
For the NHS England Chief Executive, Simon Stevens, the time to address outpatients is now.
Stevens described the current model as obsolescent. And, in doing so, challenged local systems to consider how they can reconfigure services – with patients and clinical teams at the centre of their thinking.
Service reconfiguration or change* needs to factor in the patients who should benefit from the change, how they access the services and, before all of that, how they are made aware of the services.
This final point is critical and, if not appropriately addressed, can undermine the value of service reconfiguration.
Already deployed across the NHS are a range of Single Point of Access (SPA) and Referral Support Services (RSS), which offer a valuable approach for promoting the use of alternative services.
Even once a new service is embedded, SPAs & RSS continue to be of considerable value – both in the services they offer to patients and their ability to collect valuable data.
SPAs & RSS perform a unique function in data collection, particularly where they act as gateway for all referrals – including those created by community services and directed to hospitals.
Commissioners can in turn use this information to understand performance and capacity, as well as informing decision-making on future service redesign.
Advanced Referral & Triage
Unlike many systems repurposed to manage referrals, psHEALTH’s ART software improves SPA & RSS performance. ART automatically captures referrals from a range of sources, including e-RS and email, before validating patient and referral information.
After, by consulting our unique Rules Engine, ART can direct referrals along a prescribed workflow.
All of this helps to improve efficiency and reduce cost.
Furthermore, ART gives service managers and commissioners access to live data that would otherwise take days to collect and analyse.
This data is essential to commissioners for identifying and understanding variation in referral behaviour, as well as informing decision making for future service reconfiguration.
*Service change is any change to the provision of NHS services which involves a shift in the way front line health services are delivered, usually involving a change to the range of services available and/or the geographical location from which services are delivered (NHS England, Planning assuring and delivering service change for patients)