We reviewed how the introduction of online access to sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing for a county wide sexual health service has affected face to face (F2F) attendances, and overall attendance numbers.Methods
As part of managing a large county wide integrated-sexual health service we have based our planned attendance numbers on actual activity data from previous years to forecast service activity. In April 2016 we introduced the option of online STI access alongside a complementing triage system. Using electronic record and online access data we compared actual to projected activity, and established the effect of the online service in terms of overall activity for 2016/17.Results
The introduction of an online channel together with a reviewed triage system appears to have directly reduced F2F attendances. The overall activity level including both F2F and online for the service did rise, but based on the cost of F2F attendance compared with theaverage cost of online tests, there are still estimated savings of over £500,000 and predicted reduction of around 10,000 F2F attendances.Discussion
People have been satisfied with the online service and it appears to be an acceptable and popular alternative and not and addition to F2F. The reduction in F2F attendances (10,000) frees up clinical time enabling improved and increased resource for complex care and staff and service development.