An online self-triage and patient information service that cut hundreds of unnecessary GP appointments in a pilot study is now available to surgeries across the country from EMIS Health.
Practices signing up to eConsult can provide patients with a website link to self-help information; signposting to alternative services; and a symptom checker which can help them establish whether they need a GP appointment.
Patients who submit a condition-based eConsult questionnaire to their GP will receive a response within one working day.
The eConsult service was developed by Hurley Group, the GP services provider which last year concluded a successful pilot study into the benefits for patients and practitioners at 20 practices in 10 CCGs. The pilot study included five non-Hurley Group practices.
The six-month study examined the benefit of providing access to 133,000 patients and resulted in a 400-hour reduction in GP appointment time. In 60% of cases, patients were able to resolve their health concerns without visiting the practice.
EMIS Health is making eConsult available to GP practices using any clinical software system, including EMIS Web. It is already available to more than one million patients.
EMIS Health are taking responsibility for marketing, distribution, implementation and customer support, enabling the Hurley Group to focus on continual development of eConsult by clinicians, for clinicians.
Matt Murphy, managing director of primary care at EMIS Health said: “The pilot study proves that eConsult can bring huge benefits for both patients and GP practices, speeding up access to health advice and ensuring that people who need to see a GP are able to get an appointment more quickly.
“Our next step is to integrate eConsult into the EMIS Web clinical system to make the clinical user experience even more seamless”.
Dr Arvind Madan, Hurley Group GP Partner, said: “It’s clear that primary care needs to change in order to continue to provide for the needs of today’s population.
“eConsult provides better access for patients at a time convenient to them, better health outcomes as patients are presenting earlier, improved practice efficiency by encouraging patients to self-triage and savings for commissioners with reduced use of urgent care."