- Posted Monday March 25, 2019
The GP Forward View contained a series of 10 high impact actions that aim to release time for general practice staff. In the first of two articles, we will take a look at the first five set of actions for primary care – what they involve, what benefits they could provide, and how they can be put into practice.
Although the GP Forward View is an NHS England initiative, the thought processes and themes that underpin it are universal and will benefit your practice wherever you’re located. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the first five actions…
Active Signposting should be a familiar topic if you have been following the FPM Blog or our Facebook and Twitter pages! It’s defined by the NHS as “providing patients with a first point of contact, which directs them to the most appropriate source of help”.
Putting AS in place means giving reception staff the knowledge and confidence to understand patients’ needs, meaning they can signpost them to the most appropriate source of help or advice. That could include services in the community, as well as those provided by the practice.
This means reduced GP appointments and greater staff satisfaction - because receptionists feel they’re doing a better job for both the practice and its patients.
Award-winning primary care training providers Thornfields offer a comprehensive programme to help receptionists and clerical staff undertake enhanced roles in Active Signposting – find out more here.
With the world of communication continuously evolving, introducing new methods of getting in touch with patients can help to improve both continuity and convenience for patients. This could mean placing a greater emphasis on using the phone to consult rather than just as a tool for triage.
It’s hoped this could mean improved access for people who may have trouble fitting in appointments, such as carers and people in work.
Plus, using SMS services – text messaging, in other words - has been shown to improve engagement among young people when it comes to healthcare, especially those with long-term conditions. Using digital communication means they can communicate more regularly with clinicians and build up levels of trust.
The actions share an array of ideas for reducing DNAs (Did Not Attends), such as redesigning your appointment system, encouraging patients to write appointment cards themselves, and issuing appointments by text message.
There’s also a recommendation to make it as quick and easy as possible for patients to cancel or rearrange an appointment. These are all great ideas for making the most of appointment slots, which can then have a positive impact on improving continuity of care.
According to this action, procedures such as sending appointment reminders by text or email and having patients write out their own appointment details can reduce DNAs by up to 18%.
The fourth action on the list encourages practices to broaden their workforces in order to reduce demand for GP time. Practices are also encouraged to makes sure that patients are able to directly connect with the most appropriate professional.
Widening the skills mix is not a new concept for GP practices, with recent years seeing an influx of new roles. Positions that have become more popular and could free up more time for GPs include physician associates, pharmacists and practice-based paramedics.
What works best will be different for each individual practice, so it’s advised that before deciding to add to the skills mix you should think very carefully about what you want to achieve. Plus, consider whether you could collaborate with other practices to train staff and implement new roles.
This is all about working smarter not harder, whether that means introducing new ways of working or streamlining your existing processes. When everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing, they are best equipped to pull in the same direction and work at peak efficiency.
A great example of more productive working is Correspondence Management, defined by the GPFV as “all incoming correspondence about patients from hospitals [being] processed by a member of the clerical team.”
NHS England says that using Correspondence Management typically results in a reduction of 60-80% in the number of letters sent to GPs. This means more time is freed up for GPs, while clerical staff typically report a significant boost to their job satisfaction. Click here to find out more about how Thornfields can help your practice implement Correspondence Management.
Find out more about the final five actions, include ideas for boosting personal productivity and using social prescribing, by taking a look at part two of our guide to the GPFV’s High Impact Actions for General Practice.