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Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale CCG roll out online consultation system to triage GP patient enquires and reduce staff workload

PATCHS will go live in 36 GP practices, following successful pilot in three GP practices

Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale CCG is rolling out PATCHS, an online consultation system from Advanced and Spectra Analytics, to help GPs across its 36 practices handle large volumes of patient enquiries more efficiently.

This latest move follows a successful pilot 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% 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 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, comments: “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.

Kelly adds: “Advanced is the only provider we have worked with that has enabled us to shape a technology solution to our own needs. This is what a true partnership is about. What’s more, we always have access to excellent customer service which has been incredibly important given we’ve had to change our solutions at the height of the pandemic. The PATCHS system has been easy for staff to learn, even remotely. Our patients have found the system easy to use too – we are seeing patients of all ages use it.”

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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