Improving Phlebotomy services to deliver better patient care

Case study: Swiftqueue and Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

Improving Phlebotomy services to deliver better patient care

The Royal Free Hospital was founded in 1828 to provide free healthcare to those who could not afford medical treatment. For many years it was the only hospital in London to offer medical training to women.  The hospital moved to its present site in the mid-1970s, bringing together the old Royal Free Hospital on Gray’s Inn Road with the Lawn Road, New End and Hampstead General hospitals. In 2012 the Trust was granted Foundation status, under the name Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.

In 2014, Barnet Hospital and Chase Farm Hospital joined the Trust bringing further medical expertise to support their improvements in healthcare and the patients they serve. Their mortality rates have been consistently among the best in English Trusts for many years. 

In 2013, the Trust recognised that they needed to improve the patient experience for its busy phlebotomy service. Manual diaries and ticketing systems were causing overcrowding and prolonged waiting in clinics, as well as increased demands and pressures on staff.

Patient engagement and surveys identified long queues and disorganisation as key issues that needed to be addressed by the phlebotomy department at the Royal Free. 

Working alongside the Trust’s patient groups, Swiftqueue was initially implemented as a trial booking system for the clinics to sample and use with patients. Simultaneously, comprehensive training was provided to phlebotomy staff. Feedback from patients and staff was positive and in 2015 the Trust decided to roll out Swiftqueue across all phlebotomy services. 

The system enables patients to quickly book their blood tests remotely, at a time that is convenient to them. For patients who don’t have access to technology, bookings can still be taken by staff over the phone. The Swiftqueue online booking system is now used by more than 1,000 patients every day across the phlebotomy services and by almost 100 staff across their clinics. 

As a result of Covid-19, some clinics had to close. The Trust utilised Swiftqueue to communicate with patients and provide them with SMS evidence for the on-door screening process. This was required at open clinics to keep patients safe. A new template was quickly created within Swiftqueue to address these challenges. The online booking system was also used for antibody testing and vaccinations for more than 10,000 staff across the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust. 

The percentage for online bookings for blood tests continues to increase across the Trust, with all sites having online booking rates over 75%. Because of this, Swiftqueue is being championed across the Trust and is being used for patient booking within the HIV clinics at the Royal Free. 

“Swiftqueue has been brilliant. The system has been adapted to all the changes and demands we have made to constantly better our service to deliver improved care for our patients.”  Janev Hassan – Phlebotomy Services Manager, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

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