For GP surgeries, telephone traffic rose significantly in a short space of time, with a reported 118% increase in telephone appointments per week in the first fortnight of the March lockdown*. Dr Ian Wood, NHS GP and Clinical Director at EMIS Group, reviewed X-on's Surgery Connect solution, and spoke with one East Sussex practice about how this product has enabled them to work in an efficient, agile way to meet demand.
Handle call volumes from anywhere with ease, with Surgery Connect from X-on
When the global pandemic struck the UK, healthcare teams across the nation were forced to act fast, implementing new ways of working to support a remote, total triage model of care.
Mid Downs Medical Practice in East Sussex decided in April 2020 to implement Surgery Connect, a cloud based telephony solution from our elite partner X-on, to help manage the influx in call volumes driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. Using contact centre technology, Surgery Connect enables practices to seamlessly route, queue and distribute calls, as well as manage peaks in call traffic and staff availability.
Supporting agile, efficient working
The ability to enable unlimited telephone lines and calls all from the same practice phone number was a quick win for the Mid Downs practice team, made possible through cloud technology.
“The immediate benefit was the number of lines. We could all ring out at the same time and people could ring in. And when there are peaks in demand, we now have a more available and flexible work force to pick up the incoming calls in the morning.”
Without the constraints of traditional phone lines, practice teams can work in an agile way to manage call volumes during peak hours. Users simply log in and have access to receive or place calls, all of which originate from the same surgery landline. The scheduler feature enables the practice to roll out different voicemail options at different times of the day, directing patients to the most appropriate support.
Another big timesaver for Dr Rajan was the “ability to simply single click on any the patient’s phone numbers and dial straight out”. Eliminating the potential for human error in misdialling, this simple feature enables practice efficiencies and saves valuable time. As Surgery Connect is fully integrated with EMIS Web, staff can also access and record patient information directly into the clinical system during calls.
X-on’s solution is also complete with inbuilt call recording functionality, which can be enabled for specific users, and switched on and off as required – even mid call. Call recording can be an important and useful feature, not just for medicolegal or complaints purposes, but as Dr Rajan points out, it’s a “fantastic piece of functionality for GP trainees” as well as for training other members of the team.
With monthly summary management reports, teams are equipped with business intelligence to help measure performance and make improvements to the service.
Enabling the flexibility to work from anywhere
“One of the nice things about having a cloud based is that you can have one number across multiple sites and your extension is tied to your smartcard – it doesn’t matter which room you use or where you are, your number moves with you.”
The ability to work flexibly and remotely has been essential in 2020. Surgery Connect has enabled the clinicians and administrative staff at Mid Downs Medical Practice to stay connected throughout the pandemic. With the ability to add a mobile extension that can be accessed from anywhere, staff working from different locations have been able to remain part of the patient and practice workflow, and continue to deliver support throughout the pandemic. Mobile extension retains the ability to record and transfer calls, as well as give the appearance that the caller is dialling from the practice landline, ensuring a consistent experience for clinicians and patients alike.
X-on, providers of Surgery Connect, are one of the over 140 partners we work alongside to bring you a great choice of innovative, quality add-on products to complement and enhance our offering. To find out more, contact us today.
* Data from EMIS software, which is used in 57% of UK GP practices.