Synertec have been working with Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT) for 5 years for delivering communications, and more recently, delivering accessible communications to their patients. Adhering to the Accessible Information Standards (AIS) is paramount for trusts to ensure they offer a means of meeting the individual needs of their patients. Without this, patients may be unable to understand where to go, when their appointments are, what medication to take, and more. This is essential that the format meets their needs to improve patient access, outcomes and experience. According to the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), 77% of people with accessible information needs reported rarely or never receiving information in alternative formats, which shows exactly how important it is to meet patient needs across the whole of the NHS.
MFT began working on this solution with Synertec to address a key issue – to create a standardised and systematic way of recording and meeting accessibility requirements. They also needed to find a way to raise awareness of provision with regards to AIS across over 28,000 staff. That’s where Synertec’s bespoke Prism software came in, ensuring that there would be a systemic approach to ensuring patient accessibility needs are met with their communications. Achieving consistency MFT is introducing a new Electronic Patient Records system called HIVE in order to bring together and standardise the different systems operating across the Trust into one system in order to improve patient access, outcomes and experience. When working with Hive, MFT are building in the AIS codes for each letter format aligned to Synertec’s codes. Jane Abdulla, Assistant Director for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, said, “I am proud that MFT has made the decision that the AIS will be mandatory in HIVE, that is we are making it mandatory to ask and record patient’s accessible information and communication needs. I believe we are the only Trust in the country who have introduced HIVE to have made the AIS mandatory. With Synertec, we can provide correspondence to patients that meets their individual needs.” The integration of the AIS into HIVE will enable the Trust to achieve its ambition to be the best place for patient quality and experience. Jane Abdulla, Assistant Director for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion stated that, “We can be fairly sure that higher DNA rates come from people being unable to read their correspondence. Some people rely on neighbours or friends, and a patient may not get the full picture.” Therefore, the Trust set their objective to achieve that remove barriers to patients taking control of information and communications.
Improving Patient Experience
When looking at patient experience, Jane focused on the difference to lifting barriers to accessible information and communication can make. Jane continued, “It can be a true partnership between the clinician staff member and the patient to achieve the goal that they’re striving for.” This synergy between staff and patients is very important for success. Patients must be enabled to be equal partners in their care and treatment and the provision of accessible information and communication supports achieve that aim. The trust has already done work to ensure that staff understand how AIS is supported through Synertec, so that they are able to confidently discuss this with patients. There are resources for staff and patients to further express
accessible information and communication needs. The outpatient letters were the initial step of this project, which will now grow to achieving consistency across other cli9nical correspondence and information. The ultimate success of the project has not only been to achieve consistent communications for the patients, but to help support the Trust in becoming more efficient and consistent in their own solutions. Jane discussed how Synertec’s solutions mean that they can achieve multiple goals by working together. “Synertec brings together solutions that we have previously had to go to a range of solution providers. It has taken the workload of an individual for the translation of materials that is now automated.” This efficiency now allows documents to be formatted automatically through Synertec’s Prism unit. This will contribute to support better provision of information to patients of the MFT, meaning that patients can now feel more confident in their hospital visits and their overall experiences with the NHS.