Fife surgery cuts the queues with Online Consult

Serving over 6000 patients, Methilhaven Surgery in Fife were already experiencing high volume of patient demand before the COVID pandemic hit the UK. When they found themselves facing this new and significant challenge on top of their day to day workload, they knew it was time to try a new approach. We spoke to Practice Manager Nicole Kelly about the practice’s move to Online Consult, and how effective triage has improved their capacity.

When their local Health Board offered the chance to employ Online Consult, Methilhaven Surgery were eager to try a new way of working at their practice. Their existing system of offering pre-bookable appointments and triaging urgent cases over the phone was becoming unsustainable, and the team were looking for a new approach to manage demand.

Cutting the queues

Implementing Online Consult in July 2020, the practice soon saw the impact of this new solution, which uses branching logic to guide patients through a series of questions to determine the best avenue for care.

“Online Consult reduced incoming calls – we noticed a big difference in that. We used to get the half eight queue out the door to book an appointment, as well as a spike at 2 o’clock… but all of that stopped. The new system seems a less stressful way for patients to make appointments.”

Nicole Kelly, Practice Manager, Methilhaven Surgery

Gathering the right information

The partners and clinicians too were impressed with the new solution, which was collecting far more detailed information and allowing them to be ‘better prepared’ for their consultation.

“The previous system we’d need to take details, and people wouldn’t want to tell the receptionists what was wrong, or if they did give us details they didn’t give us enough. Online Consult has definitely helped us to get better information and decide who they need to see.”

Nicole Kelly, Practice Manager, Methilhaven Surgery

Making the most of clinical resource

The surgery team found that Online Consult has enabled them to more effectively manage demand at their practice -. With more effective triage in place, there were less unnecessary appointments, and the team were able to make the most of their additional clinical resource.

“We had a lot of patients signposted to the community pharmacy, or booking in with the first contact physiotherapy practitioner. Even for a medical certificate – there’s no need for a wasted appointment unless they needed a review. Previously we had a lot of wasted appointments, even just for a prescription – but all that’s stopped. With an increasing multi-disciplinary team, we are able to better signpost patients to a clinician who it best suited to their needs thanks to the more effective triage questions offered by Online Consult.”

Nicole Kelly, Practice Manager, Methilhaven Surgery

Now a year down the line, Nicole and the practice team at Methilhaven can’t imagine going back to their old system, and are enjoying making the most of the newly introduced functionality such as the ability to upload photos.

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