We’ve introduced a range of deployment templates that help practices of all sizes and types identify the issues they face and use eConsult to address them
No two GP practices are the same. They all have different patient demographics, list sizes and staffing arrangements. And there are many different models of operation, which means a one-size-fits-all approach to electronic consultation is not the best approach.
This is why we have introduced a series of deployment templates that look at the key issues practices may want to address, and suggest before and after scenarios that show how eConsult can help.
Deployment option 1: duty doctor telephone list
With an unlimited duty doctor telephone list, practices face a high volume of calls every day. Often the duty doctor ends up dealing with non-urgent requests on the phone because the majority of clinical queries are placed on the triage list. Patients probably feel they are getting a good service, but it’s an unsustainable solution for GPs who face burn-out due to the sheer number of calls they have to deal with.
Patients get the attention they need, while pressure on the duty doctor is alleviated
A better way to deal with this scenario is to have all urgent requests go through eConsult for triage, with patients who don’t have online access completing an eConsult over the phone with the practice’s admin team, and each GP reserving a few dedicated phone slots for very urgent cases. After reviewing the eConsult, the clinician decides whether a prescription, call or face-to-face appointment (urgent or routine) is appropriate. Patients get the attention they need, while pressure on the duty doctor is alleviated, because they only deal with top priority patients.
Deployment option 2: reserved slots for urgent cases
When a practice reserves slots for urgent, on-the-day appointments and these are fully allocated on a particular day, patients are told to either try again the next day, or go to an urgent care centre. This is not the best experience for patients, who may feel their needs are not being met; practice phone lines are congested and there’s a high workload for receptionists as they try to deal with calls and allocate urgent or routine slots. Another problem is that, of necessity, the ratio of routine pre-bookable to book-on-the-day appointments is dependent on workforce capacity within the practice – there is very little flexibility.
By channelling all urgent requests through eConsult for triage, with help from the admin team for those who are unable to complete an eConsult online, a practice can set just a minimum of slots aside for extreme cases. After reviewing the econsultation, the clinician decides if a prescription, call or face-to-face appointment is appropriate. This is better for patients, who feel their concerns are being addressed; access to reserved slots is limited to urgent, top priority patients after initial triage on eConsult; telephone lines are not congested and patients do not have to resort to urgent care centres to have their healthcare needs met.
This is better for patients, who feel their concerns are being addressed
Deployment option 3: walk-in clinic
Walk-in clinics are generally very busy; often there are queues at the door before the clinic opens, and patients can wait anything up to a few hours to be seen. Although patients do ultimately see a GP, surgeries are congested, waiting times are very long, doctors are exhausted from back-to-pack appointments, and slots can be lost because of varied demand.
A better, more efficient and less frustrating approach for patients, doctors and admin teams is to replace the walk-in clinic with eConsult triage. A number of on-the-day appointments are reserved, and access to these is limited to top priority patients, following review by a clinician, who will also issue a prescription or allocate a call slot if appropriate. Early morning queues outside the surgery are eliminated, and scarce resources are better deployed for patients’ benefit.
Deployment option 4: duty doctor telephone list and reserved slots
With an unlimited duty doctor telephone list, plus limited slots reserved for urgent on-the-day appointments when the GP is not able to solve the issue over the phone, inefficiencies can occur if a high proportion of calls are converted to face-to-face appointments. Often, the duty doctor has to deal with non-urgent requests on the phone, as most clinical queries will be placed on the triage list, and some appointment slots can be wasted if they are not used. In addition, congested phone lines are frustrating for patients and admin teams alike.
When patients are required to take the econsultation route and just a few slots are set aside for urgent cases, eConsult can triage all on-the-day requests. Patients still have on-the-day access via eConsult, with urgent needs met through reserved face-to-face slots. Triaging calls in this way is easier for patients, doctors and admin teams, and results in improved efficiency for the practice when appointment slots are more appropriately managed.
Patients have on-the-day access via eConsult, with urgent needs met through reserved face-to-face slots.