Patient initiated follow-up, (PIFU), is one of the considerations laid out in the outpatient’s transformation requirements 2022/23 Operational Planning Guidance and an integral part of the NHS’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic, helping providers and systems manage waiting lists and to prioritise patients in the most need as quickly as possible.
PIFU allows patients to initiate appointments as they need them, based on their symptoms and individual circumstances. Giving patients the flexibility to arrange their follow-up appointments as and when they need them.
It can be used with patients with long or short-term conditions in a broad range of specialties and helps empower them to manage their own condition, playing a key role in enabling shared decision making and supported self-management in line with the NHS’s personalised care agenda.
At Communitas Clinics we have always included PIFU within our patient care pathways, previously known to us as SOS, ‘see on symptom’ from the inception of our services over 13 years ago.
PIFU appointments within our ENT and Dermatology services have proven successful for several patient groups within our services, particularly those with chronic conditions who may experience periods where their symptoms flare up e.g., wax build up and Eczema. Rather than offering routine follow ups within a set timeframe, the PIFU pathway avoids unnecessary pre-scheduled attendances, (when symptoms may be controlled), and empowers patients to initiate appointments only when they are needed. This is supported by the sharing of patient education material and symptom and trigger information from our clinical team to our patients.
When patients do utilise the PIFU pathway, we are dedicated to offering them a speedy appointment to consult and provide treatment, patient quote:
“My appointment was very quick once I said I had the same problem …. the dr I saw was helpful in explaining what I have and where to look for help and things others have found helpful.”
As an NHS provider of specialist community services, we pledge our adherence with NHS England in their efforts to improve outpatient care and will continue to implement PIFU appointments for our patients.
We are in the process of analysing the impact of PIFU within our services; this will look at the effect on patient attendances, clinical outcomes, and assess the past and future release of capacity this continued initiative will provide.
Look out for a published case study in the coming months which we intend to share across the NHS to provide accurate data and our learnings.