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CCG rolls out online consultation system further



An online consultation system is being rolled out across 36 GP practices in Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale CCG to help handle large volumes of patient enquiries more efficiently.

The move follows a successful pilot of PATCHS at three practices – Littleborough Health Centre, Argyle Street Medical Centre and Peterloo Medical Centre – which has seen patients triaged to the most appropriate clinicians faster, and administrative work reduced.

Around 90 per cent of patient enquires into Littleborough Health Centre, for example, are related to administrative tasks which, before the implementation of PATCHS, would be handled by GPs.

PATCHS, developed by Advanced and Spectra Analytics, enables patients to contact their GP from their practice website or smartphone, dramatically reducing the inbound call bottlenecks which place pressure on phone lines and reception teams as well as eliminating the need for most patients to attend the practice in person.

Its triage and workflow functionality enables practices to handle hundreds of requests simultaneously, allowing practice staff to prioritise and signpost patients to the right care provider – whether that be a GP, pharmacist, physiotherapist or social worker.

Kelly Vines, practice manager and partner at Littleborough Health Centre, says: “Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, all GP practices have been expected to provide digital services. However, many were left using different and disjointed solutions.

“When each practice receives around 300 calls between 8am and 10am each day, and there is a corresponding rise in complaints because people are understandably anxious about COVID-19, there needs to be a better, more organised way. We needed a single solution, and Advanced has delivered.

“During the pilots, we have seen a reduction in the number of inbound calls and a decrease in the number of unnecessary appointments. Crucially, it has enabled us to triage patients more effectively and quickly which is a win-win for both practices and patients.”

Advanced is working with Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale CCG to go live with PATCHS in all 36 practices before the end of August. It is delivering remote training and webinars to onboard staff as well as refine and develop the system further based on user feedback.

Ric Thompson, managing director – Health & Care – Advanced, says: “Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale CCG has been a customer of ours for many years, and has always shown an appetite to use the latest technology to improve patient care.

“Its GP practices are already using our document management solution, Docman10X, to process clinical correspondence and now they are using PATCHS to handle patient enquiries. We are looking forward to working with them over the coming months to develop a solution that is fit for their needs now and in the future.”

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