Waiting list patients set to benefit from innovative new service

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Patients on waiting lists in Lancashire and South Cumbria are set to benefit from an innovative artificial intelligence service developed by the NHS to allow patients to let their hospital know their current health status.

Chatbot, an automated call system, guides patients through a series of questions designed by NHS consultants and healthcare experts. This lets the NHS know if their condition has significantly worsened and possibly, speed up their treatment or lets them know that they no longer require treatment.

A pilot of around 2,000 waiting list patients in Morecambe Bay and Preston will soon receive an automated call asking them about their health condition. They will receive an SMS text message beforehand to warn them to expect the call.

The overall aims of the Chatbot service are to:

  • Ensure that waiting lists are up to date so our hospitals can focus on those patients who require treatment.
  • Allow patients the opportunity to engage with the NHS and raise any concerns they may have about their condition.
  • Free up NHS hospital staff for other essential duties.

Gary Doherty, Director of Service Development, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“This is a great initiative for patients, and they should not be worried if they receive a text message or a call from a number they don’t recognise. The service will be similar to telephone banking, but no one will be asked to divulge any sensitive information on the call.

“This is an opportunity for patients to make sure they are reviewed for treatment, at the same time as freeing up NHS staff resources. The service has already been trialled in the NHS, where up to 50 per cent of patients answered their phone to provide an update on their condition. If patients in Morecambe Bay and Preston engage with the service in the same way, that will be a successful result for patients and their local hospital.”

Following an effective pilot, the ChatBot service will be rolled out to a wider group of patients waiting for an hospital appointment or operation in Lancashire and South Cumbria later in 2022.

Patients can find out more at healthierlsc.co.uk/chatbot