Waitemata District Health Board (WDHB) wants to enable email communication with its patients and substantially reduce the number of letters it sends out each year.
The DHB posts around one million letters per year that are associated with 250,000 outpatient appointments, and 470,000 dental appointments. WDHB serves 580,000 people located in the North Shore, Waitakere, and Rodney areas, making it the largest population of all New Zealand’s DHBs.
Through the healthAlliance, which provides procurement services to four DHBs in the upper North Island (Waitemata, Auckland, Counties Manukau, and Northland), WDHB has issued a Request For Proposal (RFP) for ‘Outpatient Flow Tools: Digital Postage and Printing Solution.’
Top of mind is the implementation of an email solution that would reduce postage costs and increase patient engagement. It would include configurable templates for correspondence from multiple services, the ability to enable attachments (eg maps) and should ideally be cloud hosted.
“Waitemata DHB does not currently have the mechanisms in place to support contacting our patients via email. Our primary method of communicating outpatient appointments is by post, supplement by phone calls when rescheduling is required… appointment letters are expensive to prepare and postage provides little confidence that appointment letters are reaching patients in a timely manner, increasing Did Not Attend (DNA) rates,” the RFP says.
“Initially, the solution will be deployed at the Patient Service Centre, the Auckland Regional Dental Service and the Transcription Service; combined, these services send around 500,000 letters each year. The solution will be developed so other services can be included easily in future.”
In addition to an email solution, WDHB is also looking for a postage solution, that would potentially slash the current spending on bulk mail by half.
The cost of sending 500,000 letters is noted in the RFP documents as about $500,000 a year. The current process is described as “a fragmented approach for the handling of mail, and a lack of auditing given the adhoc nature of our current postal activity.” Internal staff labour is used to print letters and stuff envelopes, there is no tracking of mail receipt and despite the large volumes of mail “no postage savings are realised from consolidating mail volumes.”
The RFP notes that the Counties Manukau Board will be participating in the tender as an observer and that the contract would be open for other DHBs to join.