by Gurbaksh Badial

A Better Way To Process eConsults

Here at the Hurley Group we’re always looking at ways to maximise efficiency, and the knowledge we gain helps our customers – other GP practices like ours – make the best use of their resources too.

As London’s leading provider of GP services with 14 practices, six urgent care sites and over 100,000 registered patients, we originally created eConsult for our own use, and we’re delighted to pilot new developments for getting the best from the system. One of these is the eHub, where we now centrally process all eConsults that come into our surgeries.

‘We knew efficiencies could be achieved by sharing best practice’

When we realised that each site was handling eConsults slightly differently, we knew efficiencies could be achieved by sharing best practice. We briefed our technical team to design a module that can conduct a search to find the live eConsults at each site. We then created a core team of GPs who sign onto each site’s clinical system and access the eConsults. The eHub team then processes eConsults in the normal way, talking to patients on the phone, emailing them or sending prescriptions to a pharmacy of their choice.

We found that by centralising the processing of eConsults, not only could we achieve more consistency in the way that they were dealt with, but we could also realise greater efficiency: we now close more remotely (i.e. without the patient needing to come in for a face-to-face appointment) than when each site was processing its own eConsults.

As part of the eHub team, I’ve seen a lot of positive change since we started centrally processing eConsults in January this year. Because the work is concentrated, we’re able to learn quickly and make improvements on a daily basis. Having a dedicated team is also helpful from the clinical perspective, because we can discuss cases with each other and build on our shared experience – which, of course, is better for patients too.

This project has also given us an extended knowledge of our clinical system, which means that the GPs who work in the eHub for one or two days a week are able to use the whole system, not just eConsult, more effectively when they go back to their surgeries.

Economies of scale

As I write, it’s still early days for the eHub. We’ve processed over 500 eConsults since 17 January and while we are looking forward to analysing the first six months’ data, we know we are signing off around 80% of eConsults remotely, which is a higher percentage than was being achieved by a lot of individual sites within the Hurley Group.

‘We are signing off around 80% of eConsults remotely’

With the creation of new care models likely to increase rapidly over the coming years, this kind of solution is ideal for networks, clusters and federations. When you have a central team taking care of the technical aspects – everything from creating templates to dealing with eConsults and handling other administrative tasks – it’s easier to achieve consistency and it means you can move faster, which has to be better for patients.

We’re already looking ahead to the next phase of eHub, and we want to create clinical communities, places where clinicians from different sites within the group can go to have their queries answered quickly, because we’re here and can focus on their needs. Ideally we would like to have someone here all the time so that we can provide a 24/7 service and respond to eConsults and other queries in minutes rather than hours. Exciting times ahead!