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NHS shelves Choose And Book in favour of e-Referral service

The NHS has chosen to discontinue its Choose and Book programme after the contract ends later this year, instead opting to rollout a new e-Referral Service.

The old system, a way for patients to book hospital appointments at a time to suit them online, will be replaced by a new project later this year.

According to the UK press, the current deal with IT firm Atos ends in December and the NHS has already awarded contracts to new suppliers.

Choose and Book was part of the National Programme for IT – and is often deemed as a successful part of the scheme, which was overall deemed a failure by the National Audit Office (NAO).

According to the NHS, this system takes up to 40,000 patient referrals every day, with over 40 million booking taken since it was introduced in 2004.

Despite the praise the booking portal received, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) claimed that the NHS had not fully utilised the system’s potential.

“We know Choose and Book worked for some and not for others and a combination of electronic and paper referrals is still being used in some areas,” claimed Beverly Bryant, NHS England director of strategic systems and technology.

“With the new NHS e-Referrals Service, we want to build on the successes of Choose and Book and use the lessons learnt. This isn’t about reinventing the wheel, it is about taking the next step,” she added.

Agile methodologies to be adopted for e-referrals

An NHS statement revealed that it is intending to use Agile development techniques when building the new service.

In doing so, it claims it will be able to deliver a programme built around the users in order to deliver modern and efficient healthcare.

“When Choose and Book was designed back in 2003, Agile, open technologies were not readily available,” claimed Bryant.

“A major objective of the new NHS e-Referrals System will be to introduce functionality for patients as well as clinicians to facilitate choice to make the whole booking experience more user friendly,” she added.