The future of outpatient care was the subject of an event organised by the Surrey Heartlands Academy when it hosted a visit by the President of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), Professor Andrew Goddard (pictured).  Professor Goddard outlined the work of the RCP to clinicians and other delegates and spoke of its recently published report ‘Outpatients: the future – adding value through sustainability’.

This report seeks to re-evaluate the purpose of outpatient care and align those objectives with modern-day expectations; with better utilisation of technology being a key element of the re-design process. Alternatives to the traditional appointment could include remote monitoring and phone or video-link appointments.

“It’s obvious to me that the system isn’t working anywhere near as well as it should,” Professor Goddard told attendees. “On any one day NHS-related journeys account for 5% of road traffic in England, a quarter of doctors say 10-20% of their new patients didn’t need to come to an outpatient clinic and 28% of doctors say 10-20% of their follow up patients could have been seen using an alternative to face-to-face consultation.”

Professor Goddard was joined by John Dean, Clinical Director at the RCP, and Peter Wilkinson, Consultant Cardiologist at Ashford & St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, who spoke of the collaboration between Surrey Heartlands, The Royal College of Physicians and The Royal Academy of Engineering. The number of outpatients appointments has almost doubled from 2007-17. This collaboration is about applying a systems engineering approach to improving health and care, putting people at the centre of the project and examining the needs that must be addressed.

 “Surrey Heartlands and its partner organisations have a unique opportunity to transform the way we work to better serve those who traditionally visit our hospitals as outpatients,” said Dr Mark Hamilton, Surrey Heartlands’ Academy Clinical Director. “We were delighted to welcome Professor Goddard to Surrey Heartlands to hear more about the work of the RCP and to share information on our quality improvement journey and collaboration with delegates.”

Read Dr Hamilton’s blog based this event on the Surrey Heartlands website. The Surrey Heartlands Academy is a virtual network which supports clinicians with the adoption and spread of innovation and best practice.

Read the Royal College of Physicians’ report ‘Outpatients: the future – adding value through sustainability’ here