Local governments racing ahead of NHS in visitor journey management solution deployment

The latest Freedom of Information (FoI) survey from visitor journey management expert Qmatic has revealed that NHS trusts are falling behind their public sector counterparts in the local government sector in implementing comprehensive journey management strategies to reduce waiting times for visitors.

Just 25% of NHS trusts reported having a strategy in place to reduce outpatient waiting times. This is in comparison to 63% of local councils, that reported having a clear strategy in place to reduce waiting times and guide visitors through their offices and different departments.

This data has emerged following FoI requests sent to 80 NHS foundation trusts, as well as 77 local governments across the UK, to gather information on the strategies and technologies that these organisations have implemented to reduce waiting times, and welcome and guide visitors through their facilities.

Key findings include:

  • 74% of local councils have set waiting time targets, while only 32%ofthe NHS trust respondents have done the same
  • Many local councils reported meeting their targets, or are within 90% of achieving them, but just 12% of NHS trusts reported their success in meeting targets
  • There is currently low adoption of patient journey management technology, within the NHS trusts surveyed, with just 21% of trusts using self-service kiosks, and 14% using queue management displays
  • Local councils also show low investment in advanced technology, with only 15% reporting investment in self-service kiosks, and just 8% deploying iPads and tablets to serve similar functions

Vanessa Walmsley, Managing Director at Qmatic, commented: “The public sector has undergone an unprecedented period of budget cuts imposed by central government over the last decade. This has left both the NHS and local governments struggling to deliver crucial, frontline services to their users. 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 bestpossible 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.”

Vanessa Walmsley concluded, “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.”