Tonyfelin Medical Centre
- Patient List size: 13,000 patients
- Launched: June 2020
- Model: Total Triage
Tonyfelin Medical Centre in Caerphilly, Wales, looks after over 13,000 patients. Previously, the practice ran walk-in surgeries and a traditional booking method for patients needing help or advice. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, it was forced to change its processes as its methods became untenable.
Tonyfelin chose eConsult as its digital consultation provider to help the practice continue to treat patients and manage increased workloads on clinicians caused by the pandemic.
Following a rapid roll-out period, within one-week eConsult was live in the practice. This led to fewer calls being received to the surgery, freeing up time for staff to focus on patients that needed them the most, with Tonyfelin planning to keep the platform long after the pandemic.
A move away from the traditional model
Traditionally, Tonyfelin would care for its patients in two different ways. Patients could either phone the practice and book an appointment, which could be arranged up to four weeks in advance or attend one of the morning and afternoon walk-in surgeries hosted throughout the week.
Although this model of care previously worked for the practice, when lockdown and social distancing measures came into place because of COVID-19, it became untenable. With a limited number of patients allowed into the practice, waiting lists for appointments quickly grew and the number of patients calling in to book an appointment increased rapidly, making clinicians’ workloads unsustainable. As well as this, Tonyfelin was not triaging patients, which meant the practice was unable to prioritise patient needs to ensure those that needed support urgently received it quickly.
With these hurdles needing to be quickly overcome, Tonyfelin turned to eConsult to help it safely care for patients during the pandemic.
Total Triage supported by eConsult
After an initial remote meeting, the Medical Centre decided to embrace eConsult and a ‘Total Triage’ model straight away, meaning that all requests for the practice were to come in online through the platform. This would give Tonyfelin the best possible control over their patient requests, so they could provide care based on clinical need.
With the platform needing to be up and running as soon as possible, eConsult and Tonyfelin took a rapid roll-out approach. Within one week, the practice had gone from agreeing to use eConsult to having the platform readily available to patients.
Staff were quickly trained on how to use eConsult ahead of the launch by completing online training. Clinicians joined daily webinars hosted by the eConsult team which demonstrated how the platform works and improved their confidence in both triaging and remote consultations. In-house training sessions were held at the practice so that they could use the platform themselves and run through potential patient scenarios.
Thinking of moving to a ‘total triage’ model? Get in touch with our team
Preparing for go-live
To prepare patients for the switch to eConsult, an awareness campaign was launched in the lead-up to the platform becoming available on the practice website. Patients received texts informing them of the change, while leaflets were placed in Tonyfelin Medical Centre and prescription bags as additional promotional materials.
The hard work of staff paid off, with preparations holding the practice in good stead for going live on the 17th June 2020. Patients quickly took to the platform, with 612 eConsults being submitted in the first two weeks. For patients calling the practice, staff were on hand to guide them through the process of submitting an eConsult. This ‘Total Triage’ model quickly resulted in a reduction in the numbers of calls the practice received, with administrative staff, as well as clinicians, greatly feeling the benefit of this.
“Staff no longer feel under pressure to rush through calls. They are no longer on the phones all day which has freed up time for them to focus on other things such as treating and helping patients.”Dr Bethan Scourfield – Lead GP
The feedback from patients has also been positive, with the platform being praised for its speed and ease-of-use:
- “The service is very easy to use with clear information on what is going to happen. For my son’s situation, it was a lot easier than calling the surgery.”
- “Last time I had to go into the surgery to request a prescription and then go back to collect it. This was much more practical and time-saving”
- “What a fantastic common-sense approach to health care. My ailment was on-going and so it just seemed like a practical way of getting medication. The advice by the doctor was also clear and extremely efficient.“
eConsult as part of the new normal
Though bought in as a tool to help Tonyfelin Medical Centre care for patients through the Coronavirus crisis, the improvements seen using eConsult have prompted the practice to keep the platform at the heart of their operation. Patient usage continues to rise with nearly 2,000 eConsults being submitted in July 2020.
“Going forward, we’re not going to change how we use eConsult. The way people access healthcare has been changing for some time and the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this. eConsult is the future and has completely changed the way we work.”Dr Bethan Scourfield – Lead GP