DOCTORS in Worcester and Malvern have joined with colleagues across the county to roll our the latest in telephone technology to improve access to care and overall efficiency.
The ‘cloud-based’ system is the latest step in the new Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) covering Herefordshire and Worcestershire.
The move is aimed at providing patients with easier access to healthcare, staff with the ability to work more efficiently and remotely, and doctors with a cost-effective platform to reduce patients failing to attend appointments (which cost the NHS £1billion a year) and deliver new forms of consultation.
Called ‘Surgery Connect’ the intention is to make it easier for patients to get through to a GP, and allow them to manage their own appointments.
Practices will also be able to provide extended hours access, match capacity to demand, and deliver new forms of consultation – all priorities for NHS England’s GP Forward View.
“Joined up telephony was one of the priorities,” said James Harley, primary care IT lead for the CCGs.
To achieve the region’s vision of more effective care, improvements to telephony were seen as crucial as almost nine out of ten patients use the telephone as their first point of contact with the health service.
“We saw that lots of GP practices were paying too much for their phone systems, which were often antiquated and did not have the functionality required to support new ways of working,” said Mr Harley.
“With Surgery Connect, we saw that the system had been designed with GP input, and built to meet the needs of practices.”
Patients can manage their own appointments over the phone, and has the potential to enable them to contact several surgeries in evenings and weekends to arrange appointments and speak to a GP.
The system also supports remote and mobile working, so GPs and other health staff can be in contact with patients via a mobile app.
GPs can carry out consultations over the phone and, ultimately, will be able to do the same through video.
For the county’s doctors, grouped into their respective Clinical Commissioning Groups, the system will also reduce costs.