It has been an incredibly challenging year for general practice.
Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners was quoted as saying that it took “two and bit weeks to achieve more than we have achieved in 20 years” in adopting new technology.
Our existing PatientPack technology was already well placed to help practices immediately faced with the need to switch suddenly from face to face patient interaction, to remote consultations.
Online services such as appointment booking and prescription requests enable patients to self-serve, reducing demand on practice teams dealing with the additional work generated by COVID.
We were also approached by a CCG customer to develop new bespoke technology that has solved some of the major challenges faced by practices in these extraordinary times.
Here’s a quick overview of how our solutions have helped to improve accessibility to healthcare and reduce pressures on both primary and secondary care teams during 2020.
We developed a new app to automatically complete admin for mass vaccination programmes
We rose to the challenge when we were asked to develop and build an app which is currently being used for mass drive-through flu vaccination programmes across the country in just four weeks.
Simple, but incredibly effective, it has been really successful. You can see it in action and hear directly from Heathcot Medical Practice in Woking, who have used it for their mass flu programme this year. Click here to watch the short two-minute video, or read the case study here.
The app has helped practices boost uptake of the vaccine in vulnerable groups, cut appointment times, free up time to see more patients, meet their flu vaccination targets quicker and more efficiently, and has eliminated admin associated with saving vaccinations to patient records – amongst many other benefits. You can read more about the app here.
Our PatientPack app has never been more important
Our PatientPack app offers many features that have been especially beneficial to practices during the pandemic. Online appointment booking, medication ordering, video consultations, forms to submit admin requests and tools to help patients understand and manage long-term conditions are just some of PatientPack’s features.
- We’ve seen repeat prescription requests via the app jump by over 500% since March, as more users switched to online services and saw how easy it is to order their medication via the app.
- When NHS England advised practices to move quickly to a total triage model, our symptom checker/total triage tool saw a surge of 300% in use of the app to identify symptoms. We integrated the ability for the tool to identify patients displaying COVID-related symptoms, and appropriate signposting to 111 in line with NHS England advice. We also responded quickly when Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG requested that we roll out the symptom checker and appointment booking elements of the app to their patient population of 450,000 within a two-week time period.
- We enabled video consultation technology via the app, so our customers and their patients could access video consultations easily
- We’ve helped to reduce pressure on administration teams – PatientPack provides a range of online services which allow patients to book their own appointments and request repeat medication, which all help to reduce telephone and visits to the practice, relieving pressure on practice administration teams.
Throughout the pandemic, practices have faced reduced staffing levels due to COVID infections and isolation requirements, so it has never been more important to streamline and digitise processes which have traditionally been manual.
Reduced call volumes mean phone lines are freed up for less digitally able patients. Many practices have also seen the benefit from setting up forms, which patients can access via the app and use to send through requests for fit (sick) notes, updates to personal details, general queries etc. With requests coming in to practices in a standard format, teams can work through them at their own pace, and ensure all necessary information is gathered at the point of request so it can be actioned quickly and efficiently.
Population messaging has been crucial for patient communications
Our Target Messaging platform enables practices to send out batch/bulk text messages to their patient population quickly and simply. It has been used proactively during the pandemic to:
- Alert eligible patient groups of the need to book a flu-vaccinations and send appointment reminders to reduce DNAs
- Send QR code links to drive-through flu appointment patients, so they can be checked in quickly and their vaccination can be immediately and automatically logged on their patient record
- Advise patients of practice closures where there have been COVID infections
- Inform patients on changes to practice arrangements such as social distancing, wearing masks and moves towards telemedicine or video consultations
- Signpost patients to sources of mental health support
- Distribute COVID-19 local guidance and public health information to wide patient populations
Our Target Messaging software is also helping practices in Rotherham to monitor patients with COVID symptoms remotely. Practices use the software to send SMS messages to patients asking them to take a blood oxygen reading. They use a pulse oximeter to take the reading and respond back to the text message which is received and reviewed by the practice before being written to the patient’s medical record. This ensures that patients with low blood oxygen readings receive medical attention where needed and concerned patients with normal readings receive reassurance to help avoid unnecessary contact with medical teams.
Our digital forms are supporting centralised vaccination appointment booking teams
We’re now supporting centralised call centres that are handling the booking of COVID vaccinations.
Our digital form enables patients to request a vaccination appointment simply and securely online.
The solution captures all necessary demographic details for patients and enables them to choose a suitable date and time for the vaccination at a specific location. The appointment requests are then routed directly to booking teams to process and confirm.
Offering the ability to request an appointment online is reducing telephone calls to the centres, and pressures on the telephony teams. It also means that teams can process and confirm digital requests at a time suitable for them.
For patients it provides a simple and convenient way for them to book their appointments 24 hours a day.
This solution is available now and can be rapidly deployed. Please get in touch if you would like to know more.
Can we help you?
We’re pleased that our technology solutions have been able to support general practice through this challenging time. If you have a problem you would like to solve using health technology, please get in touch with our team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.