The NHS e-Referral Service has saved the health service £10 million in its first year of operation, following a redevelopment by NHS Digital.
The electronic booking system was used to make 10 million referrals in the same time period.
NHS Digital has said millions of pounds have been saved because they built the service in-house, in collaboration with other software specialists.
This has led to a 60% reduction in running costs compared to the “Choose and Book” system, which the NHS e-Referral Service replaced in June 2015.
NHS Digital also announced additional features are also being added in response to what GPs, hospital trusts and patients said they wanted from the NHS.
New features will include enabling GP clinical systems, secondary care provider systems and third party applications to interact with the referral service directly.
This will remove the need for users to swap between their applications and the professional user interface.
NHS Digital expects this to be rolled out to third party users by the end of 2016.
In response to feedback from users, an alert function has now been set up to improve communication about the service.
The system alerts allow messages to be sent directly to users of the NHS e-Referral Service from within the application, enabling them to keep up to date with the latest system and service information.
Ahead of wider roll out, the service is also currently piloting capacity alerts, designed to help referrers to guide patients in choosing the most appropriate services according to availability of appointments and Referral to Treatment Time.
Beverley Bryant, Director of Digital Transformation at NHS Digital said: “The NHS e-Referral Service is a great example of how we are working to revolutionise the way the NHS connects with its patients.
“Like the NHS Spine, which was redeveloped two years ago, the NHS e-Referral Service is benefiting from new software and agile working.
“Together, the systems have saved the NHS more than £70million, demonstrating the ways in which technology can benefit the NHS.
“The feedback we get from users is vital to ensure that we build a service that works for them, and we will continue to engage with patients and clinicians to build a service that fits their needs.”
More than 50 million referrals were transferred to the NHS e-Referral Service from “Choose and Book” and the new system handles around 40,000 referrals every day.
It is estimated that if all secondary care acute trusts used the NHS e-Referral Service effectively, the health service could save up to £50.5m a year.
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