The ‘Patient Initiated Follow-Up Service’ was introduced as a pilot by the Trust in February 2017 in rheumatology. Almost 470 rheumatology patients have transferred onto this new system since the launch. It is specifically designed for patients with stable long-term conditions to allow them to directly access clinical teams as and when they have a flare up of their condition. Rather than waiting for an appointment in several weeks or months, as was the norm, under this new system patients have the control as their conditions flare-up to request an appointment, helping them when they most need it.
The aim of the service is to reduce unnecessary visits to hospital and patient waiting times, and also release the clinical teams to see new and more complex patients in a timely manner. So far the rheumatology team has saved 118 hours or 4.91 days.
Respiratory patients will be assessed for suitability for the service by the clinicians responsible for their care. If they are deemed suitable, they are supported on how best to manage their condition from their own homes with instructions on how to access the Patient Initiated Follow-Up service if they need help or advice at any time.
Jacqui Pickles, Deputy Chief Operating Officer, UHMBT, said: “Patient initiated follow ups put the patient in control of any further appointments they have. Research has shown that having a regular outpatient follow-up does not help prevent patients’ conditions returning or identify new problems. In fact, many people find the follow up visits to the hospital cause a lot of unnecessary anxiety”.
Suzanne Lofthouse, Clinical Service Manager, UHMBT, said: “We are excited to be the to go live with this innovative approach, putting patients in control of their long- term condition and their follow up care. Patients can gain access to the new service if they need additional support to manage their condition from 8am-8pm Monday to Friday and they will be contacted with appropriate advice.”
To ensure that patients find the service beneficial, feedback will be gathered regularly.
The new service has been developed as part of the Better Care Together strategy. Better Care Together is the clinically led strategy for ensuring health and care services across Morecambe Bay can remain safe, are of a consistently high standard, and can be financially sustained not just for the next five years, but well into the future.