In general practice, everyone is feeling the strain of increased demand, constraints of workforce and income and increasing paperwork. We need to look at ways to reduce workload while maintaining patient quality, safety and experience.
At our shareholders’ meeting in November 2017, a local GP called Nicola McGuinness gave a brilliant presentation about how her practice had started using text messages to send patients results of investigations and tests. Practices hear frequently from patients that making contact with the surgery can be difficult and often many of the calls to practices are from patients who are ringing to pick up their results. It is estimated that approximately 70% of tests are satisfactory and require no further action. If a practice were to contact these patients proactively it would avoid the need for patients to ring in and, in doing so, give a better service to these patients. Furthermore, it would improve access for other patients in need of contacting the surgery. After the presentation, a huge number of practices expressed interest in having access to guidance so they could set this up for themselves.
Over the last few months, we have been working with Nicola’s practice and one other to embed the texting results project and to develop information, create training materials and refine the process so we can share it out to others. We have now published a set of guidance documents and videos to all of our practices. While this functionality is not new, our work will help practices to understand and navigate some of the implications of working in this way. We anticipate it will be very popular with practices, especially as feedback from the pilot practice has been so positive. One GP said “it has revolutionised the efficiency of my communication with patients and has prevented them from getting mixed or unclear messages about their management. Reports back from patients are fantastic – the majority love it.”
If you want to know more, get in touch!