Headlines: March 17th, 2005

A system has been developed to help NHS patients get information on medical tests results more quickly and at the same time ease the burden of telephone answering for hospital staff.Leading speech recognition technology specialists Telephonetics have devised the system in conjunction with an NHS Trust and it has been released as a new module on the company’s ACCESS Platform.

The Medical Results Service module allows patients to ring a specified number to obtain the results of any recent medical tests. It works alongside a hospital trust’s existing procedures and systems and can be adapted to work in a variety of hospital departments. It has been used first in an STI/GUM Clinic where telephone calls for test results, some of which have often not been sent back from the laboratory, were inundating clinic staff. As a result the telephone was often left unanswered, as there was no dedicated staff member to take calls.

The new system means all calls are answered quickly and professionally. Leaving staff to carry out their medical duties. Patients identify themselves by entering a unique piece of information and the system can tell them if their results are available, what the results are and, where relevant, what action they need to take next. Patients who still wish to speak to a person are given a number that they can call.

Paul Welham, from Telephonetics said they had found many patients preferred the system as it avoided the potential embarrassment of calling about a medical condition. The system ensured all calls were answered, which was critical in a hospital environment where the patient was often extremely anxious.