Pelton & Fellrose Medical Group
- Patient List size: 8,900
- Launched: September 2019
- Model: Total Triage
To help overworked staff, tackle long waiting times and non-attendance, Pelton & Fellrose Medical Group asked Durham CCG for help. The CCG responded by procuring eConsult. Pelton & Fellrose used eConsult to tackle their waiting times and help manage the new issue of the COVID-19 pandemic.
North East Practice harnesses eConsult to tackle waiting times and pandemic
Pelton & Fellrose Medical Group in County Durham is home to 8,900 patients. The practice was running an unsustainable model of care, with patients needing to phone in to arrange a face-to-face appointment. This would result in staff receiving such high volumes of calls that they were often left overwhelmed and appointments needed to be made a long-time in advance. With such long waiting times, ‘did not attends’ were a regular feature at the practice, wasting GP time and resources. As well as this, anything that needed to be seen on the day was managed by one, overworked GP.
To help its overworked staff, tackle long waiting times and non-attendance, Pelton & Fellrose Medical Group reached out to its Clinical Commissioning Group, County Durham CCG for help. The CCG had recently procured eConsult and having researched the benefits of the platform, the Medical Group recognised it as the solution to its problems.
Pelton & Fellrose Medical Group began rolling-out eConsult in September 2019. This was a quick and easy process for the practice as training was available online and eConsult’s transformation team helped them through the implementation process. Staff also had access to webinars and video sessions on the eConsult website, while internal training was split between clinical and reception training so everyone understood their role and how to make the most of the platform. As well as this, everyone in the practice tested eConsult as if they were patients, to gain a greater understanding of how the platform worked.
To prepare patients for the implementation of eConsult, the practice ran a comprehensive awareness campaign. Through a prominent banner placed at the forefront of its website, as well as posters in the surgery and word of mouth, the practice was able to clearly communicate to patients why and when Consult was being put in place. The Medical Group also implemented an automated signposting message on its phone lines, meaning when patients called they were encouraged to consider using eConsult as the first point of contact with the practice.
Implementation, training and awareness are key:
Following implementation, training and awareness-raising, eConsult went live. The benefits of the platform were felt straight away. Thanks to patients now being able to submit their consultations via an online platform and clinicians being able to treat them remotely, the number of calls that the practice received fell drastically.
“Previously, we used to get between 50-80 calls a day from patients at peak times. Thanks to eConsult, that number has now dropped to between 10-20, meaning our reception team are less stressed and able to help those phoning instead of worrying about the volume of calls. Staff are also able to prioritise their time on patients that need the most care and ensuring there is less non-attendance of appointments as patients can be cared for wherever they are.”Bethany Ramm, Assistant Senior Receptionist at Pelton & Fellrose Medical Group
A move to a next working day response time, made possible by eConsult, also helped reduce the number of patients missing appointments.
The speed of response and care that the practice is now able to provide has also been recognised and praised by patients, particularly with regards to being able to submit an eConsult at a time that suits them. Over 86 per cent of patients that have used the platform said they were satisfied with the service and 80 per cent they would use the service again over a face-to-face consultation.
Thinking of moving to a ‘total triage’ model? Get in touch with our team
Feedback from Pelton & Fellrose patients included:
“I found it enabled me to record all the issues and symptoms I was experiencing, which then gave the practice the opportunity to review my case and offer me an appointment with relevant staff. It also meant that the GP knew in advance what my appointment was about, which saved time in our consultation.”Patient at Pelton and Fellrose
“Working full time, I never seem to find the time to attend the surgery. This gave me the flexibility to sort out my issue in my time. It’s a great tool!”Patient at Pelton and Fellrose
“It is easy to use, you have a response quickly, you are contacted by the relevant person, you are advised to come to the surgery if the doctor needs to see you.”Patient at Pelton and Fellrose
How eConsult helped manage patient needs during the COVID-19 pandemic:
eConsult also proved particularly useful for the practice during the COVID-19 pandemic. As appointments that would have previously been carried out face-to-face now needed to be completed remotely, this meant that patients didn’t need to attend the practice. This ensured they could protect themselves and staff from catching or spreading the disease. For example, patients who had skin conditions could send pictures of their symptoms to the practice, rather than having to attend an appointment.
The improvements at the Medical Group and its effective use of eConsult has been recognised by the practice’s CCG.
“The hard work of the Pelton & Fellrose Medical Group team, as well as the support from eConsult, has ensured that they can provide the best possible care to patients during and beyond the current pandemic. It is encouraging to see one of our practices embracing new technologies to help improve its services and Pelton & Fellrose Medical Group should be held up as an example of what can be achieved through innovation.”Maria Milner, Project Manager for NHS North of England Commissioning Support, who works with the County Durham CCG
Pelton & Fellrose Medical Group are now looking for ways to further make use of eConsult to improve its services. The practice has started to use the platform to provide patients with clinical review templates, meaning that patients can provide updates on their symptoms remotely and clinicians can review these and provide feedback, only requiring a face-to-face consultation if necessary.
“eConsult has been a life-saver for the practice. We’ve managed to improve patients’ accessibility to care while also providing a service that they really enjoy using. Each GP manages six eConsult slots per clinic and then the rest goes into an overflow that our clinicians dip into. I would recommend all practices looking to upgrade their services consider trying eConsult. Everyone from GPs to receptionists feels much better since the implementation of the system as they can respond to eConsults in their own time and better prioritise their days.”Bethany Ramm, Assistant Senior Receptionist at Pelton & Fellrose Medical Group