by Dr Murray Ellender

Spread the word

Helping patients understand the concept of online consulting is key to uptake, which of course is crucial to the success of any implementation. Our work with GP practices implementing eConsult identifies time and time again the need to engage with patients – if possible, ahead of implementation, and certainly during the early stages. Following that, consistent messaging is important to remind existing patients and inform new ones.

Don’t ask, don’t get

Measuring patient satisfaction can often be a trigger for change. One of our customers, Unity Health in the Vale of York, has a list size of 23,000 and was shocked to find patient satisfaction with its reception services at an all-time low after a survey in 2016. This was mainly because people were unhappy when receptionists told them they would have to wait two to three weeks for a GP appointment. A classic case of blaming the messenger, perhaps, but it spurred Unity to look at alternative models of care for its ever-growing patient list.
Because everyone thought they needed a face-to-face appointment, they felt their expectations were not being met. So when Unity introduced eConsult as an alternative way for patients to consult with their GP that might even mean they didn’t have to visit the surgery, it meant that before people’s lack of satisfaction could be addressed, their understanding had to be improved, which would hopefully lead to revised expectations.
Introducing patients to the concept of self-help and ensuring they feel confident in accessing and using new care models can result in a surprisingly fast uptake and a strong feeling of ownership. As Unity Health found, engaging people in their own healthcare resulted in happier patients, as well as freeing up GPs to focus on helping those who need it most.
But communication has to be consistent and sustained: people access and process information in different ways, and of course new patients join all the time. That is why we’ve produced a set of patient-facing communications – posters and a video – that help practices educate and remind patients about the benefits of eConsult.


Keeping it ‘reel’

The thread of electronic communications runs through the materials – each poster focuses on a particular benefit of eConsult, using computer commands and keyboard icons to illustrate concepts like taking control over your own healthcare, escaping the queues, and the fact that you don’t have to shift your day around because you can consult with your GP at a time to suit you.

Simple and clear, the posters can act as a constant reminder and are great for reception areas, waiting rooms and consulting rooms, with a call to action that drives patients to the practice website.
The video is informative, accessible and compelling, and has a huge range of potential uses. Ideal for email campaigns, where it helps guarantee a much higher ‘click-through’ rate, it can also be used on the practice’s website. For groups like students, ante-natal classes, and those who regularly require repeat prescriptions, it’s ideal for explaining the benefits of eConsult. The video can also be promoted on the practice’s social media accounts like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, as well as being screened with subtitles in reception and waiting areas.

Why video?

We see so many films and animations these days that it’s easy to forget why video is such an effective communication tool. The fact is that we’re becoming used to having things explained to us in this way. Many of us even search the internet by video – YouTube is the second largest search engine behind Google.
Video harnesses two of our senses at the same time – sight and hearing – and engages our imagination. There’s a wealth of data online of course, but in short, people are far more likely to engage with information in videos than on blogs, articles or social posts. Videos encourage people to spend more time looking at your communication because they want to know the whole story. And because stories are many times more memorable than facts alone, and our brains process visuals so much faster than text, people are far more likely to understand, remember and feel confident with information they get from a video.
Animated videos are even better – they help bring concepts to life by entertaining while simplifying the details to make them more accessible. We love our relaxed, friendly little blue eConsult character and the ease with which he explains how people can take control of their treatment and get better health outcomes. We hope your patients will too.