Hedge End Medical Centre has celebrated four years of making access to its service easier through eConsult, an online service for patients to get NHS advice or make contact with the general practice (GP) on any day, at any time.
One Hedge End patient said, “I have lung cancer and I am more likely to pick up an illness when I attend the surgery. Therefore, I avoid attending by using eConsult as it allows me to get an answer and avoids taking up a valuable appointment”. Whilst another said, “On each of the three times I've used this service it's always been extremely quick, easy and helpful. I've always been contacted much more quickly than waiting until the next working day, usually within an hour or two.”
Pressures on the GP meant that Hedge End Medical Centre had to change the way it worked to cater for its 16,000 patients. By using eConsult, patients are able to send their symptoms and queries electronically, which is followed up with a reply from the GP as soon as possible – saving on time and productivity.
Since 2015, the GP has received 27,791 submissions through eConsult, at an average of 250 per week. This has saved 16,000 appointments, allowing more people to access the right NHS service to suit their needs. In total, 86% of patients were satisfied with eConsult, and 80% said that they would use it again instead of booking an appointment.
Jennie Dock, Practice Manager, said, “Using eConsult has made our appointment system more effective, as our feedback shows. Our telephone lines are not too busy in the morning, which allows people who are unable to use online services to get through to us on the phone.”
Dr Karl Graham, GP Partner, said, “eConsult allows us to prioritise patients with the greatest need through our nurses, and ensures that our resources are managed efficiently. By using both technology and traditional healthcare methods, our general practice will be sustainable for longer.”
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