Freeing up extra appointments with remote consultations in North Staffordshire GP Federation

Clinicians in North Staffordshire GP Federation have been using remote consultations to offer extended access services across the region.

Remote consultations are a great way to improve access to general practice services and increase the timeliness of appointments and consultations. They help to ensure that patients can get to see a GP or nurse at a time convenient to them, whilst receiving safe and appropriate care.

For larger GP federations such as North Staffordshire, using EMIS Web with remote consultations has meant that they're now able to work flexibly, and share important patient information as well as appointment details. Ian Gibson, business manager at North Staffordshire GP Federation, found that using remote consultations with EMIS Web made it much easier for clinicians and staff across the federation to manage their workflow and capacity.

Up and running in no time at all

North Staffordshire GP Federation were already using EMIS Web clinical services in a walk-in centre within their federation and, as Ian notes, “wanted to use that infrastructure and build out remote consultations to be able to increase our capacity.”

“Once we’d had an initial training session, it was clear that remote consultations demonstrated everything we were looking for.” With the decision made the system was then rolled out across the federation in the extended access hubs. Ian was thrilled with how quickly and easily they were able to go live with the software and get going with their remote consultations.

“The trainer from EMIS Health was great and it only took a couple of weeks for us to go live with the system.”

Ian Gibson, business manager, North Staffordshire GP Federation

More joined-up federated care

The federation has been using EMIS Web for remote consultations in 76 practices across four hubs, providing care for half a million patients since September 2018. These four hubs are located in community hospitals in various locations across the federation's area.

Reception teams at each hub can filter appointment books to view all appointment schedules, the schedule of individual hubs or to just see nursing appointments. This makes it much easier and faster to find an appointment slot at the hub most convenient for the patient. Because patients are more likely to end up with an appointment at a time and place that suits them, the number of cancelled or unattended appointments is dropping, meaning there are more appointments available for those in urgent need.

More informed decision making for safer care

By using EMIS Web for clinical services alongside remote consultations, the staff in each hub are able to seamlessly share patient information and appointment books, making it easier to provide joined-up care and make informed clinical decisions.

“Staff feedback has been great. They really value being able to see the full patient record in their consultations”

Ian Gibson, business manager, North Staffordshire GP Federation

Clinical notes from consultations can be filed against the patient’s primary care record and updated within EMIS Web. This means that up-to-date patient notes can be securely and efficiently accessed by any clinician within the federation when treating a particular patient. It also means that an audit trail is created across the federation, making it easier to track a patient’s care journey and keep all relevant clinicians in the loop as patient tasks can be sent to the registered practice.

This all adds up to making it easier for patients to access safer and more efficient care that suits their flexible needs.  

Creating more time for patients

Because the use of remote consultations has helped to improve the federation’s efficiencies, there have been time savings for clinicians and patients. Information on a patient’s medical history, existing medications and recent appointments can be quickly and securely accessed, ensuring that clinicians can diagnose and prescribe suitable treatments easier and faster.

Because the federation can now share their appointment books and patients can be seen at a hub that suits them and fits in with their busy lifestyle, an extra 3,578 appointments have been able to be offered in just the first month of the service being live.

Patient feedback has been “overwhelmingly positive” too, notes Ian. Now that they have flexible access to the healthcare services they need, patients find it much easier to stay on top of their health and seek help when needed.

Improved communication between service providers

By giving clinicians and admin staff full view of primary care records and appointment bookings, EMIS Web has allowed for improved federated working. Appointments are now more accessible and available for patients, regardless of circumstance, with all the clinical information required at the clinicians’ fingertips.

“For areas that have a lot of EMIS Web practices and want to offer extended access, I would definitely recommend using remote consultations.”

Ian Gibson, business manager, North Staffordshire GP Federation

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