Forge Medical Practice – Assessment of Need – Utilising eConsult

July 2023

Forge Medical Practice – Sunderland

  • Patient list size: 9,819
  • Launch date: July 2019
  • Model: eConsult Smart Inbox

User Story

Forge Medical Practice decided to move away from the traditional 8am model to an approach that enabled the practice to better manage demand for their services and ensure equitable care for their patient population through an assessment of need model.

The practice manages assessments through the eConsult Smart Inbox. From here, online consultations submitted by patients are received. If a patient does not want to use the online system, the reception team simply asks the patient the questions on the online form and fills it in for them, so the service is identical whether contact is online-only or on the phone. Since the phone lines are less busy, staff are able to spend longer on the phone to those who need more help.

“We no longer tell patients to call back, we’re now seeing more older patients than ever before who weren’t able to get booked up in the 8am call queue”
Forge Medical Practice – Clinical Staff

From here the Triage GP that day, assesses all clinical requests. Urgent requests are managed the same day, routine requests offered an appointment within either 48 hours or 3 -14 days. Where a face-to face appointment isn’t required, the clinicians will contact patients either via a phone call or text message confirming the outcome of the assessment.

A member of the admin team acts as the ‘outbound lead’ for the day and contacts patients to book appointments etc.

There is no longer an 8am rush on the phones or a queue at the reception desk, making it easier for patients to contact their practice by phone and online, and to know the how their request will be handled. The practice can better plan resource for a day, week, month.

Although the phone line will always remain an option, the practice now has an average of 72% of requests coming in online, including from patients in their 90s.

Feedback from patients:

Feedback from eConsult patient survey:

“Very pleased with the results, thank you


“Excellent service, very friendly”


“Prompt appointment”


“Prompt efficient service


“Very good efficient service”


“Good service


Had a phone call 15minutes after I submitted my e-consult”


“I submitted my e-consult at 8am and received a phone call at 8.40am offering me an appointment that afternoon. Very happy with service

We also meet with our PPG recently who commented on how they could see a change within the admin team and how happy they all seem.

Feedback from Admin Staff:

“Going great”


“Patients that need to be seen are being seen”


“Volume of calls have reduced, no 8am rush”


“Great not having to inform patients we are fully booked and ring back tomorrow”


“More time to speak to patients and help and sort out their queries”

Feedback from Clinical Staff:

It’s great, the smart inbox automatically does a high-level triage process so that the patients you need to triage first appear first


Our older patients are loving this, they can actually get their problems sorted and with the clinician that they want to see

Want help setting up the Smart Inbox?

Get in touch with our team