We hear from Broom Lane Medical Centre about their experiences with using the Rotherham Health app.

Our patients constantly report that they find it difficult to telephone for appointments at the surgery. From 8.30 am our telephone lines are fully manned but are constantly engaged due to the sheer number of patients calling for appointments. Due to patient requests we do not operate a queuing system on our telephone lines. This has resulted in some patients reporting that they have made as many as 70 attempts to get through to the surgery. With a view to addressing this situation our surgery is fully supporting the Rotherham health app as it seems to be the answer to many of our day to day problems.

The app provides the patients with the ability to book appointments, view their test results, order prescriptions, view their record, check symptoms, check allergies and gives them access to the Extended Hours appointments at a time that is convenient to them.

Is it easy for patients to sign up and use?

The app is easy to download and use. We have been able to put together a simple set of instructions that we can distribute to the patients to allow them to download the app and then use the app to its full extent. If a patient is struggling with the installation of the app we ask them to come into the surgery and our staff members help them to download the app and then demonstrate its use to the patient. If the patient is having problems with the app out of surgery hours there is a simple link to the app support team who can help the patient with any query or problem. Very few patients have reported any issues with downloading or use of the app.

How has the app benefitted your patients?

The app has great benefits for the patients that find it difficult to get into the surgery during the day. The app allows the ability to book appointments with the GP of choice at a time to suit working hours. It also allows quick and easy ordering of prescriptions and as the patient can have the prescription sent electronically to a pharmacy near to their work address, this saves the patient a lot of time and effort to get to the surgery to collect the prescriptions. A further benefit to the patient is with the ordering of prescriptions. With the recent initiative to reduce the amount of wasted medications the ability for the pharmacies to order the prescriptions has be removed. The onus is now on the patient to order the prescription themselves.

As we do not take telephone ordering of prescriptions the patients needed to drop in their prescription order in the surgery; as a working patient this is in many cases a difficult task. Online ordering has removed much of the stress of ensuring that the patients have sufficient medication.

The symptom checker in the app is an invaluable tool to the patients to allow them to check symptoms if they have a health worry. The patients answer a few questions about their health and symptoms and the app will direct them to a suggested path of treatment.

This may be an appointment with a health professional, self-care or further advice. This can provide the patient with peace of mind over a weekend or during the night if they are at all worried. The symptom checker, if used correctly, can reduce the number of inappropriate bookings of GP appointments. This, in the long term, can ensure that there are more GP appointments available for all patients.

Many of the telephone calls into the surgery are for patients calling for test results. These results can easily be accessed from the app without the stress of making a telephone call to the surgery. Patients can see the full detail of the test results and then have these to hand and for their records if they then need to attend further appointments at the hospital for example.

Patients can see an overview of their own medical record should they need to. This helps with the recall of dates for vaccinations and illnesses should the patient need them. Again, this is useful if the patient needs to attend further appointments that are not with the GP.

The impact of the use of the app on the surgery is great. We have seen a reduction in telephone calls for appointments to the surgery. With over 25% of our appointments on the app and plans to increase that number, patients have access to a range of clinicians, dates and times so they can choose an appointment to suit them. The reduction in telephone calls enables the receptionists to provide a better service to all patients. We have found very little inappropriate use of appointments using the app so ensuring the patient receives the correct treatment with the correct clinical professional on the first appointment.

The ordering of prescriptions online enables the administration team to complete the prescriptions in quicker time so providing a speedier service to the patients. Online ordering also reduces errors in ordering and ensuring the patient receives the exact medication that they have ordered.

The surgery has seen a reduction in the number of missed appointments. If a patient cannot attend an appointment it is just the click of a few buttons to cancel. This then allows the appointment to be available for another patient to access. This in turn releases more appointments and saves money for the NHS.

Why would you recommend the app to your patients?

The app allows patients to access extended hours appointments with various health professionals outside working hours. Appointments are available every evening, weekend and bank holidays with a range of professionals from GP’s, Advanced Nurse Practitioners, Pharmacists, Nurses and Health Care Assistants. This helps the patients to access health care at a time that fits with their life. Blood tests, dressing changes, contraception issues can all be dealt with at a time to suit the patients. As we live in a 24/7 society this service can fit around the patients other commitments.

For patients who are caring for elderly relatives or young children the app allows access to approved users to the accounts of family members. This ensures caring for that relative is easy and simple for they family member as they are able to order medication, book appointments and view results.

As a surgery we would highly recommend the use of the Rotherham health app as an easy way for patients to access medical information and care. The app also provides added benefits to the surgery by releasing time. This in turn allows the surgery to provide a better service to all patients in an extremely busy environment.

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