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P29 Creating a digital patient helpline for medicines information at a specialist paediatric hospital
  1. Devansh Khanderia,
  2. Nikki Acton,
  3. Caroline Dalton
  1. Great Ormond Street Hospital


Aim To improve the patient facing aspect of a Medicines Information (MI) service by setting up a patient helpline that meets the needs and expectations of patients and carers at the Trust. The MI team identified a patient helpline as a potential area for improved visibility and growth within the service.1 To align with other clinical workstreams within the Trust, the MI team decided to develop a virtual helpline within an existing patient facing app, a digital platform used by families to communicate securely with their clinical teams.

Method The MI team and the Trust ICT team worked together to create a contact box within the existing ‘Medication’ page on the app, through which patients can ask clinical questions about their medicines. All in-app messages arrive directly to an inbox within the EPMA system, ensuring patient confidentiality remains intact.

To limit enquiries unrelated to MI (requests for repeat prescriptions or supply of medication) and to give users an expected turnaround time for answers to enquiries, a brief description of the MI service was added to the Medication homepage. For all urgent enquiries and clinical emergencies, app users are signposted to a more appropriate service via an automatic response. Baseline data (number of enquiries) from patients or carers were retrospectively collated over an 18 month period prior to the intervention using MiDatabank software. Throughout the first 4 weeks of the service launch, all enquiries received via the app were recorded using Microsoft Excel. Relevant clinical enquiries were also inputted into MiDatabank following standard MI practice. The overall number of enquiries received during this time and the percentage answered on time were also recorded as part of standard MI Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Preliminary Results The MI team received 78 enquiries from patients or carers in the 18 months prior to the app service launch, 72 of these enquiries were relevant to MI (approximately 4 per calendar month). During the first 4 weeks, 82 enquiries were received via the app alone. Of these, 13 enquiries were relevant to MI with 69 enquiries relating to supply. Full analysis of key themes and trends is ongoing.

Conclusion The data have clearly demonstrated an increase in direct contact from patients and carers to the MI service; within 1 month there has been a 4-fold increase in enquiries compared to baseline data. The main limitation of the data used as a comparison is that it has only been collected over the first month of launch. To mitigate this the MI team will continue to collect data through ‘snapshot’ audits at months; 3, 6, 9 and 12. This will help identify whether the MI team are making a sustained impact to patient care through a digital patient helpline.

Given the significant increase in workload for the MI team, the data may be used to support additional staffing within the team.


  1. UK Medicines Information, Thames Valley and Wessex Chief Pharmacists Network. Implementing a medicines helpline for hospital patients: a practical guide for hospital pharmacy. January 2017.

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