More efficient prescribing saved dozens of practices almost four hours in a week

Our professional services team helped One Care Consortium to make lasting improvements to the way their practices both prescribe and provide access to care.

Spanning Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, One Care is a GP-led consortium that implements innovative projects for their 89 member practices. Dedicated to finding ways to enhance services and access to care, they enlisted the help of our professional services team for their GP Access Fund-supported prescribing project. 

“The focus of the project was to make an impact on the clinical and non-clinical workload, which would make working life better,” explains Samantha Hacker, project manager at One Care. Also looking to develop engagement with community pharmacy and improve repeat prescription requests, One Care realised that changes to prescribing “could have a significant impact on practice capacity” and would additionally benefit patients.  

Our professional services were well suited to support these aims. Digging down into an organisation’s challenges and goals, they move away from the typical product-led project and instead see how changing processes can lead to improvements. By tackling the six-month project in this way, One Care’s practices were able to reduce the time spent on prescribing, increase electronic prescription requests and improve patients’ use of online services.

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Providing practices with tailored support

With dozens of practices involved, part of the project’s challenge was to ensure that everyone’s needs were met. “Some practices felt that they had a lot to change, while others felt that they had a few bottlenecks that they needed to overcome,” mentions Samantha. 

To tackle such diverse requirements, our consultant, Sean Reedy, worked with practices on a one-to-one basis. Following on from an initial group session, Sean held individual practice workshops. This tailored support meant that “Sean could delve into practice’s specific issues in detail,” explains Samantha. “His expertise and process planning meant that everything could be mapped out, and that the right questions were asked. It allowed those involved to take a step back and look for solutions.”

“The practices really valued the input they were given.”

Samantha Hacker, project manager at One Care

With an understanding of every practice’s current situation and where they wanted to go, individual action plans were drawn up. These were also laid out in timelines that ran alongside best-practice charts that the practices could follow.

Making life easier with speedier prescribing processes

The precise pinpointing of the practice’s challenges meant that there were significant improvements to their prescribing processes. Over just one week, clinicians saved 3 hours and 48 minutes of time when processing prescriptions. Not only that, but there was a 159% increase in electronic prescription requests to pharmacies, a 71% reduction in lost prescriptions and a 35% drop in prescription queries.

These achievements were partly down to ensuring that systems were being used in the right way. “Some of the action plans involved the medicines module in EMIS Web,” comments Samantha. “Quite a lot of practices weren’t using it to its fullest – many didn’t know how it could help them to easily find an audit trail. It was very, very helpful for practices to realise that EMIS Web could do more for them than they were expecting.” Meanwhile, prescriptions clerks were also shown how to add a drug to the prescriptions screen properly. As Samantha continues, “It means that practices can now be sure that information is correct, which prevents duplication of work and ensures patients don’t have to come into the practice again to confirm their medication.”

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Successful collaboration for successful change

These new working practices were cemented by the collaborative nature of the project, which also involved training provider Soar Beyond. Working in close partnership, everyone was able to ensure that the right messages were getting across.

“Sean shared the individual practice action plans with Soar Beyond. Soar Beyond would then use these action plans to discuss the changes with the practices and tailor the training programme they were providing,” says Samantha. "The collaboration between Soar Beyond and EMIS Health was very good. It meant that the practices were presented with a united front and weren’t receiving mixed messages.”

Supporting patients with quicker and easier access to care

When it came to improving repeat prescription requests, several practices were supported to more fully utilise Patient Access. As Samantha explains, “Some practices were printing their requests out from an inbox instead of using Patient Access, which can process everything. It was also helpful to explain how it can reduce footfall by allowing patients to get their prescriptions online.”

By unpicking processes in this way, One Care saw a 75% increase in the number of patients previously registered to Patient Access using the system and an 80% drop in urgent prescription requests. It’s developments like these that mean patients across the area can more easily access care and support.

Continued success

While the project spanned six months, Samantha believes that “If we could have the run the project over 12-18 months, there could have been even more improvements.” But despite the more limited time frame, the collaboration has led to lasting results for the practices involved in the pilot.

As Samantha says, “We really do feel that we had some great results.”