by Dr Murray Ellender

Key benefits of eConsult

Still wondering which online consultation service is right for your practice or CCG? Here’s a quick recap on the benefits of eConsult

Enabling digital healthcare services is now very much part of the government’s agenda.  More and more GPs are recognising the benefits that online consultation can bring to them and their patients, but until the long-awaited guidance from NHS England is released (we’re still hoping it will be this month), it’s difficult for them to know how they can spend their share of the £45m promised in the GP Forward View.

eConsult leads the field in online consultation solutions: now live in more than 300 practices across 35 CCGs, it is available to over 3m patients across the UK. As the only online consultation tool created by GPs for GPs, eConsult draws on the experience of London’s biggest provider of GP services to create a tool that catches clinical symptoms early and offers effective, time-saving, remote triage and consultation.

eConsult is currently enabling up to 60% of online consultations to be managed remotely, without the need for a face-to-face appointment – and this figure is set to improve even further. Here’s a quick recap of the key benefits. For more information, see our website.

Helps patients help themselves

eConsult provides online triage and self-help that allows patients to self-check their symptoms and receive on-the-spot medical advice 24/7. It helps relieve pressure on GPs by giving patients access to round-the-clock support and signposting to alternative treatment providers.

Using the self-help advice option, patients can find the answers they need, and may be able to avoid seeking a GP appointment altogether, thanks to reliable, trustworthy information syndicated from NHS choices.

eConsult also helps determine if patients can receive the medical attention they need elsewhere – for example, from a pharmacist, signposting them to NHS 111 or putting them in touch with other primary care providers such as physios or therapists.

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

Patient quote – eConsult survey

Improves the quality of each consultation

eConsult allows clinicians to determine the best course of action. By capturing a patient’s symptoms and, where possible, using standard industry scoring systems such as PHQ9 for depression and GAD7 for anxiety, eConsult provides GPs with a succinct report that clearly highlights the areas of clinical risk and their likely severity. This allows GPs to assess in seconds the right course of action for their patients.

Consultation time is maximised, because with eConsult when you do see a patient you already know why they are coming to see you before they even set foot through the door. This leads to better health outcomes.

Helps you work more efficiently

eConsult allows you to maximise efficiency and increase patient access without changing the way you run your practice.

Your productivity is enhanced, and you can choose how you allocate the time saved.  Because you can process 2-3 eConsults in the equivalent time it takes to conduct one ten-minute face-face appointment, you may choose to offer longer appointments to patients who need them most.

Improves patient access

Patients can quickly gain access to the services they need, like repeat prescriptions or test results, without having to wait for a GP appointment.

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

Patient quote – eConsult survey

Captures critical illness sooner

eConsult has been designed to red flag serious symptoms, signposting patients to seek urgent medical attention when needed, and clearly highlighting areas of potential clinical concern in the GP report – helping to diagnose time-sensitive and life-threatening illnesses at the earliest opportunity.

Makes better use of other primary care services

eConsult will assess a patient’s needs, and direct them towards other primary care providers where appropriate, helping to relieve pressure on General Practice.

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

Patient quote – eConsult survey

Saves costs, maximises productivity

eConsult empowers GPs, nurses and practice staff to use their working day more efficiently. And because subscription to the eConsult service is priced per head, per patient, the cost is directly proportional to the size of your practice.

Helps patients manage their healthcare

With eConsult patients can check their symptoms anytime, anywhere, and receive on-the-spot medical advice and treatment guidance from their own GP surgery, whether that’s in the middle of the night or at their desk during the working day.

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

Patient quote – eConsult survey

eConsult effectively reduces the time to a successful patient outcome by educating patients on how to self-manage their symptoms at home and signposting them to the most suitable services that can provide effective treatment solutions.

Patient satisfaction improves with eConsult. In pilot studies eConsult received a 95% satisfaction rate from the patients who used the service as part of their general practice’s trial, helping to significantly improve patient-doctor relations and increase confidence in primary care.

“Last year we had a three-week wait to see a GP. Now we release our appointments in four sets throughout the day, so if you need to see a GP you will be offered an appointment on the day.”

Louise Johnston, managing partner, Unity Healthcare,York

With eConsult patients are able to have their symptoms remotely assessed by their own family GP without the need to visit the surgery in person, negating the need to take time off work or use precious holiday days for the sake of a 10-minute consultation.

eConsult makes it possible for repeat prescriptions to be reissued without the patient having to make a GP-facing appointment. The prescription can simply be collected at a local pharmacy of the patient’s choosing, at a time that suits them.

“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.”

Patient quote – eConsult survey

Easy to install, easy to use

eConsult simply bolts onto your existing general practice website and slots easily into your practice workflow – there’s no need to invest in any new software.

“It’s amazing how the system has supported a new approach to consulting, and one that’s right for the way we live now.”

Dr David Cooper, GP Partner, Old Machar Medical Practice

To discuss how eConsult can help your practice and your patients, click here or call 020 3126 4406.