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Primary Care

Total Triage – the new normal

Jim Roberts  | 29th June 2020

COVID-19 (coronavirus) has accelerated many practices to a digital-first model of care. With over 5 years worth of experience across 3000 NHS GP practices, we are here to help you understand the benefits of a digital-first model and how to implement it in your practice.

Why using online consultations are better for the patients and the practice

Telephone triage vs eConsult: Our first-hand experience from other NHS practices is that moving to online over the telephone is much better for patients and clinicians. Some major benefits include there is no phone queue, every patient gives their history to the same level of detail, and each patient’s need can be assessed before a telephone consultation takes place, thereby reducing the number of calls required.

In April 2020 NHSE released their blueprint for online consultation which followed our Total Triage model of care. We believe that a Total Triage model has huge efficiency, safety and clinical benefits to both patients and clinicians. Below we have outlined some of our top Total Triage resources for you.

Why use online triage over phone triage in an NHS GP practice -- eConsult infographic

NHSE have released their blueprint for online consultation which followed our Total Triage model of care. We believe that a Total Triage model has huge efficiency, safety and clinical benefits to both patients and clinicians. Below we have outlined some of our top Total Triage resources for you.

“Due to the pressure to avoid any face-to-face contact we are now managing over 90% [of eConsults] remotely this week. This has been a challenge to clinicians but is likely to help us develop our skills in the long run. Using eConsult in amongst an array of other resources which have rapidly come along has allowed us to be confident in dealing with nearly all presentations remotely, which would have been impossible only a couple of weeks ago. Having eConsult information submitted as the first stage allows us to confidently triage those who do need more follow-up into: telephone, video or face-to-face appointments, and gives us the flexibility to plan when this will be: same day or routine.”

Dr Ian Pawson, Brownlow Health

What is Total Triage?

With a total triage model of care, you want every request to the practice to have come through an eConsult. Everything comes into the practice in one way so it is easy to understand and triage based on clinical need. Each request has the same level of information so an accurate triage can be made. This might mean that for some patients who are unable to use eConsult they will phone in. A receptionist will then complete the eConsult with them so that the request still comes into the practice as an eConsult.

What are the benefits of a Total Triage model?

  • Patients can be seen based on their clinical need, not who arrived at the practice first
  • Over 70% of requests to practices can be dealt with remotely without the patient needing to come into the practice
  • Clinicians can review an eConsult in 2-3 minutes as opposed to a 10-minute face to face appointment 
  • COVID-19 screening questions are asked upfront directing patients with suspected symptoms away from the practice
  • Reduced number of inbound and outbound telephone calls

What about patients that cannot use eConsult?

We know that not every patient can use eConsult. There are some patients without access to the internet and others for whom eConsult may not be suitable. We have developed the following templates and protocols for EMIS and SystmOne to help you complete an eConsult with those patients over the phone. Click here.