Local gov ahead of NHS in visitor journey management

A freedom of information (FOI) survey has revealed that NHS trusts are falling behind local government in implementing journey management strategies to reduce waiting times for visitors.

Published by Qmatic, the figures show that just 25 per cent of NHS trusts reported having a strategy in place to reduce outpatient waiting times, while 63 per cent of local councils reported having a clear strategy in place to reduce waiting times and guide visitors through their offices and different departments.

Broken down, Qmatic found that 74 per cent of local councils have set waiting time targets, while only 32 per cent of the NHS trust respondents have done the same, while many local councils reported meeting their targets, or are within 90 per cent of achieving them, but just 12 per cent of NHS trusts reported their success in meeting targets.

Furthermore, just 21 per cent of NHS trusts surveyed are using self-service kiosks and only 14 per cent are using queue management displays. Local councils are also showing low investment in advanced technology, with only 15 per cent reporting investment in self-service kiosks, and just eight per cent deploying iPads and tablets to serve similar functions.

Vanessa Walmsley, managing director at Qmatic, said: “It is essential for the public sector to generate efficiency savings and ensure a strong return of investment, and to deliver an effective and seamless visitor experience. With increased points of engagement for visitors across their journey, public sector organisations can gather more data about how their services are used and optimise the visitor experience, further increasing potential efficiency savings.

“The City of Wolverhampton Council is a great example of a local council recognising the importance of providing a seamless visitor experience, despite the budget cuts it is facing. The council deployed several innovative technologies to better connect its customers to its services, generating operational efficiencies and making it easier for walk-in customers to be seen quicker. It is equally important, if not more important, for the NHS to provide the best possible patient experience. We all know that attending an appointment at the hospital can be a highly stressful experience and the last thing that patients want is a confusing journey to the right place, followed by a long wait to be seen by the appropriate clinician.

“While local governments still have some way to go, many have made good progress in improving the visitor experience, through targeted strategies and investment in technology. NHS trusts need to emulate this example and look to how they can improve the outpatient experience. The first step must be to develop a comprehensive strategy for managing the outpatient journey with senior leadership involvement to monitor waiting times and invest in the appropriate technology. Without this strategic approach to innovation and the outpatient experience, NHS trusts will continue to fall behind their counterparts in local government.”

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