Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital launches digital personalised follow-up pathways

As part of the NHS Elective Recovery Programme, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has implemented digital solutions from Infinity Health and DrDoctor to enable clinical teams to review patients remotely and provide a personalised approach to outpatient appointments.

An ambitious outpatient transformation programme, running at NNUH, is part of an NHS England pilot which is supporting the trust to meet national targets to move 5% of patients onto a Patient Initiated Follow-Up (PIFU) pathway by 2023.

NNUH is the first NHS trust to benefit from the integration between Infinity Health and DrDoctor, enabling digital PIFU lists to be linked up with patient assessments.  The partnership, which has rolled out a digital PIFU service across specialities, is already benefiting more than 2,000 patients who can request a follow-up appointment when they need one rather than having appointments at fixed intervals in their care.

NNUH is aiming to reduce unnecessary appointments and free up clinical time for the patients who need care the most.  Patient Initiated Follow-Up, known as PIFU, is a way to give patients more control over their interactions with hospital outpatient teams. Instead of routine follow-up appointments being automatically booked, patients can decide if they would like an appointment and request it themselves at a convenient date and time through digital supplier DrDoctor.

The Trust has pushed the project beyond other PIFU projects by bringing in digital task management platform Infinity, making the pathway suitable for a larger cohort of patients. The solution has been integrated with the trust’s patient administration system (PAS) to send monitoring and assessment forms to the appropriate patients. Clinicians use Infinity to efficiently review these assessments and prioritise patients safely. They can also identify patients that haven’t completed assessments, helping to manage the risk of patients not following-up when needed and ensuring those that can’t engage are catered for. The solution has already been rolled out in 17 specialties with gynaecology being the first.

Sam Higginson, NNUH Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted to be working with DrDoctor and Infinity Health to make it easier for patients to request an outpatient follow-up when they need one. Our Digital Health team have successfully integrated new digital platforms so that specialities can now send online assessment forms to patients to help monitor outpatients with longer-term follow up needs.”

“This helps to free up clinician time for new appointments, procedures and for outpatients who need us the most.”

Elliott Engers, CEO at Infinity Health, said, “We are proud to provide clinicians with a tool that gives them the confidence to safely scale Patient Initiated Follow-Up to more of their patients. We expect this project to significantly reduce unneeded follow-up appointments and provide the capacity needed to reduce waiting times for patients.

“We are pleased to integrate with DrDoctor and together, we plan to scale the benefits of personalised follow-up to more patients and provide a step-change in the way clinical teams coordinate outpatient services.”

Tom Whicher, CEO at DrDoctor said: “What’s exciting about our integration with Infinity Health at NNUH is how it will pave the way for a truly end-to-end elective recovery solution for the trust. Personalised follow-up which suits individual patients is the way forward and we’re really excited to be able to partner with Infinity Health to provide clinicians with a holistic view of the patient pathway as well. This is a key project which proves that integration between two systems can work effectively and provide a seamless experience for both clinicians and patients.”

PIFU is an alternative way to manage outpatients, moving away from regular in-person follow-up appointments which are often not necessary, towards personalised follow-up to suit individual patients.