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Case Study

Mitigating the morning phone call rush with online consultations

This case study highlights the challenges faced by Rise Park with booking appointments during the 8am rush. By implementing online consultations (OCs), the same demand has been managed more efficiently within the practice, offering a better patient and staff working experience.

Challenges

For a lot of practices, the main way for patients to contact the practice for an on the day appointment was through the telephone. On average, over a seven-month period:

  • Rise Park were receiving 10,454 calls per month.
  • Roughly, 14% of these went unanswered and 38% of calls were abandoned by patients.
  • Calls would usually last on average 11 minutes and 13 seconds.

Other patients would also attend the practice in person, in hope that this would heighten their chances of getting an appointment. This was resource demanding on staff and could be stressful, especially when having to turn patients away early in the morning due to there being no more on the day appointments available. When patients do make it through to a receptionist, some were reluctant to share the reason for needing an appointment. This reluctance made it hard for the GP to prepare ahead of the appointment as they were unaware of the patient’s needs.

How AccuRx Patient Triage has helped Rise Park

Rise Park opted to go live with full patient triage in January 2023. This meant regardless of the way a patient prefers to request an appointment, an OC medical request triage form will be completed. All patients now have the same opportunity to get an appointment; despite their preferred booking method, mitigating the digital exclusion some patients experience

All triage requests are checked by one of the admin team, who add these into the day’s triage list in SystmOne. These are reviewed by a GP or Assistant Nurse Practitioner for urgency. By enabling the admin staff to monitor these requests, this first allows the team to make initial suggestions, potentially preventing queries from being sent to the GP. It also enables swifter decision making by the GP when photos or further information has been submitted.

If the request has been uploaded into a triage slot for action, the GP is able to review all potential triage appointments and clinically prioritise on the day appointments. These numbers are reviewed with the number of clinical appointments available that day.

The information that is provided by the patient within the AccuRx Patient Triage has allowed Rise Park to try and accommodate patient appointment requests without further need to contact the patient. The patients are now more open to adding in their reasoning for needing an appointment and enables the GP to triage more appropriately.

Finally, the GP will colour code the triage list into those that have been actioned and those that need next steps/or additional action. This enables the admin team to support in completing the final steps for allocating patients to the appointment that is most suitable to their needs. In addition, digital admin requests received can be completed during quieter times of the day, compared to when patients would ring during the morning rush.

Key Learnings

There have been several learnings for the practice and patients at Rise Park:

  • It is a more efficient and clinically based method of allocating appointments.
  • There has been a 14% decrease in the number of calls made to the practice over a six-month period. This indicates that simpler requests and appointments are being submitted digitally.
  • Abandoned calls have dropped by 5% since May 2023
  • Whilst the number of available on the day appointments have been reduced, the face-to-face appointment slots are triaged and allocated more efficiently.