Introduction

There is an increasing amount of patients who are increasingly had to wait more to see their GP. The British Medical Associations GP leader, Dr Chaand Nagapul has said this is due to “chronic underfunding”.

The Department of Health are planning to address this via the £50m Challenge Fund. However, there are many practical changes that can be made, let’s examine some.Medical complaints processing

Technology

The NHS often mis spend on technology that is over-priced or not needed. There is a plethora of technology out there that can help solve certain issues; however, it is the case of making the relevant bodies aware of it and overcoming the fear of technology. This is where the passion of DCC lies in informing the NHS of where and how technology can work and the benefits of implementing technology in certain areas.

Usually, there is an influx of seasonal illness patients suffer, for example flu’s and colds are common in the winter and allergies such as hayfever prevalent in the summer months. GP’s do not need to dedicate a slot to patients with such common ailments, a simple leaflet or flyer can be suffice in making people aware how to manage their own health. In the instant patients still want to see a GP, this can be done by the phone or a Skype call. Indeed, these options are very low-key but are practical. Let’s say there is a scenario of one morning 3 people ringing up to see a GP due to hayfever, the GP can line up a quick 5 minute Skype call explaining how to control the allergy and, if need be, they can prescribe certain medicine, which the patient can pick up at a time convenient to them. There is a culture of wanting to make radical changes over not so radical problems. Simple steps such as this will allow GP’s to see patients with more serious issues.

Going up a notch in the technology scale, digital pens can prove to be valuable. GP’s are required to update patient notes after each appointment on the patient record system, which can be a source of delay in the waiting period between two appointments. If a GP, updated notes on paper using a digital pen, the inbuilt scanner of the pen would capture the data in the notes and upon completion the data can be sent to the PRS. An additional benefit is that the PRS is being updated as the patient is being seen.

One of the major reasons behind appointment delays is those patients who do not turn up for their appointments, which cost £108 per missed appointment. A wider roll out of text message reminders could solve the issue. A text message to remind patients of their appointment is perhaps the most sailable solution and has already been established at various institutions. A text message service is most fair on GP’s and patients. It will allow the forgetful, healed-again or patients effected by extenuated circumstances to cancel or re-arrange their appointments thanks to a reminder. GP’s likewise are able to re-arrange and organise their resources as necessary. Some parcel deliveries company do this, where they’ll text the customer the day before the delivery is due to confirm the date or to ask them to text back a number that will correspond to alternatives dates written in the text message. Dorset County hospital has found success in using a text reminder service. Previously, around 19,000 patients failed to attend an appointment, which resulted in the loss of almost £3 million. The hospital found instant success, as many patients would call back after receiving the text message to say that they’d forgotten about the appointment and thus would re-arrange. Patients have the option to opt out of the service.

Other Options?

Other options that may be easier to implement in the short term, include extending GP opening hours from 9-6 to 9-8 but not increasing GP working hours. For example, if a surgery has 10 GP’s, half of the GP’s would work a single shift of 9-6 and the second set of GP’s would work the shift of 11-8, ensuring all GP’s work the same hours, get the same amount of time in their breaks and so forth. A similar rota can be implemented for admin staff as well.

Downsizing could be an option, by doing a quick check we will find that on average there will be 3-5 surgeries that are walking distance away from a single household (on average). Focussing on a single big surgery for investment with a location that is suitable with the elderly kept in mind may be a solution for the long run.

Conclusion

Of course, many of these ideas are theory, in reality a lot of planning and thought process has to go behind implementing any change or solution.

DCC are well aware of how the application of technology can help the NHS, not being affiliated with any technology manufacturer allows us to provide the right tools for the right job without any bias. Technology aside, there are plentiful of practical, cheap methods of getting around the problem.

Book your free knowledge share workshop and onsite assessment if you’d like a practical demonstration of how the technology would work. Alternatively, contact us for more information.