by Aman Kundraw

eConsult – What do patients say?

With eConsult being used by more than 300 NHS practices and some 2.8 million people across the country, we already know GPs believe it helps them and their patients. But what do patients say?

For several months, we’ve been collecting feedback on patients’ experience of using eConsult to contact their practice, and this article gives a snapshot from our latest survey. We’ve focused on the areas where we believe eConsult makes a difference, with the aim of finding out whether patients feel the same way.

Is it convenient and easy to use?

“Efficient use of my time and surgery resources meant I didn’t have to make an appointment, which I would have had to book around work and take time out of the office. Much quicker and easier than a face-to-face appointment.”

“Advice is probably the same as I would have got had I waited for an appointment. This is much quicker.”

“It allowed me to [provide] a detailed description of the condition at a time that was convenient to me.”

“No need to make myself available for a telephone/face-to-face appointment.”

Does it rapidly resolve patients’ healthcare needs?

“Quicker than having to wait for an appointment for a problem I am often bothered with and I know that some antibiotic ear drops can help clear up.”

“Quicker response to my problem. Adverse effect of prescribed blood pressure medication – needed advice.”

“Easy to do. I have a long term condition so don’t want to be visiting GP all the time.”

“Made it quicker to get the treatment I needed.”

“Resolved my worries that day rather than waiting for an appointment either over the phone or face to face.”

Does it empower patients by giving them the information they need to make confident choices?

“It allowed me to raise a health query which was non-urgent and obtain guidance on how best to address the issue.”

“Brilliant to get advice so quickly for my back problem.”

“My concerns were taken seriously. I was given good advice which I have acted upon. I didn’t need a face to face appointment and didn’t want to take up my GP’s time.”

“It’s as good as talking face to face with your GP.”

Does it lead to better health outcomes for patients?

“Got me an X-ray very quickly without an A&E wait or having to see GP for a referral.”

“Doctor has referred me to a knee surgeon.”

“I was able to request a bone density scan as I had concerns regarding osteoporosis. I was [subsequently] able to obtain results using the eConsult service, so I did not have to waste time sitting in the surgery. A great service.”

“So easy to use and led to a far superior standard of care.”

“The issue was resolved quite easily, no need for an appointment or telephone conversation.”

Does it fit in well with people’s increasingly busy lives?

“Quick follow-up phone call from the practice with someone who had all the details so I didn’t need to repeat myself.”

“I went online in the evening and first thing in the morning I had a call to say my prescription was electronically transferred to my chemist and ready to collect.”

“So handy, as I work strange hours and have children to look after. I don’t always get time to get a F2F appointment.”

“Very convenient for working people.”

Does it help patients who may be reluctant to discuss their health issues face to face?

“It seems like a really good method of taking a first approach about a problem. I can take the time to answer and express the nature of the problem clearly and accurately.”

“Very quick and easy to use for someone like myself who gets anxiety talking about my problems. This is a great alternative.”

“I wasn’t ready to talk to someone face to face. This bridged the gap a little.”

“My anxiety sometimes causes me to avoid seeking face to face help… it is easier to answer written questions.”

“When you don’t feel confident speaking to someone about your problems for whatever reason, this way is much easier.”

Do patients still feel they have appropriate access to their own GP?

“Prompt reply and actually spoke to my own doctor.”

“It enabled me to ask some questions of my GP about an issue and reassured me that seeking a face-to-face appointment was appropriate.”

“Excellent service, with direct contact with GP.”

“My problem was dealt with promptly and efficiently by my own doctor.”

We think feedback like this is invaluable in helping us improve and develop eConsult. We will continue to collect patient feedback, reporting back in a future post, and we will be pleased to include your questions in our surveys. So if there is a specific issue you’d like to know more about, just drop us a line.