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Annual Consultant Census

“We have decreased our mailing costs by 31% and our processing costs by 32%, saving over £7800 in our first year and increasing our response rates.”

Royal College of Physicians

As a registered charity that is known for the standards it sets for clinical practice education, support and training, the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) is a professional membership organisation representing the concerns of almost 20,000 Members and Fellows worldwide. Each year, they conduct an Annual Consultant Census to capture data on the working patterns of consultants, which collects workforce-related information from 26 medical specialties throughout the UK. The results are published and made available to the government, media and the public, and has been instrumental in influencing Government policy.

In the past, the survey was issued as a paper-based questionnaire to around 8000 consultants, with responses scanned and verified by The Document Capture Company (DCC), before being sent back to the College for analysis. As the survey was around 5 pages long and referenced other data, response figures were low, even after abridged questionnaires were distributed to those who failed to answer the first send-out of the original version.

Annual Consultant Census – Increased response rates, decreased cost

The practical solution reached through discussions between the RCP and DCC was to adapt an online survey solution. After studying how the different options fitted the RCP’s key requirements, including the fit-in with their technical infrastructure and simple usability, DCC suggested the use of FormArtist Server, an attractive solution which would process an unlimited number of forms and responses for the cost of a one-off fee.

DCC implemented the use of online forms to great success, using them in conjunction with some physical forms for those whose preference laid this way. Response rates increased, costs decreased, and there were dramatic improvements in productivity. The solution was custom designed, offered secure storage facilities and handled any issues regarding multiple responses, reminders to be sent, etc.

Nina Newbery, Medical Workforce Manager at the RCP who was responsible for compiling the census was impressed with the savings made and the ease with which the new system could be managed. As Nina explains, “The great thing about this method is that you can design and deploy a form and email the link one day, and receive the responses the next day! What’s more, we’ve had great feedback from consultants who have commented on how quick and easy the forms are to fill out. We estimate we saved £7800 in our first year of using online web forms provided by DCC.”

The system implemented by DCC has now been rolled out to other projects taken on by the RCP with the time that previously was utilised for data capture and consuming planning for the census each year.