Background and Challenge
Some 311 million appointments are scheduled with GPs, nurses, therapists and other primary care staff every year.1 However, 27%2 of all appointments booked in England are deemed avoidable. In addition to the number of appointments that are made that could have been better managed in alternate healthcare settings such as a pharmacy, practices nationwide have been working towards reducing DNAs to ensure that patients who need to see a GP can do so within an acceptable timescale.
What happens when an appointment is missed?
Costs are incurred, NHS England estimate that each GP appointment costs an average of £303• Time is spent chasing patients via letter and phone to re-arrange or confirm follow-up appointments• Patient satisfaction is impactedDuring a three-month period, the healthcare professionals at Darwen Healthcare conducted appointments with 10,752 patients however they could have seen 11,178 if everyone who made an appointment attended. Using NHS England’s own figures, the cost of the 426 missed appointments totals over £12,700. Darwen Healthcare took a proactive approach to the issue by partnering with iPLATO’s myGP® platform to tackle the problem.
The myGP app allows patients to book and/or cancel appointments, track their health and manage and order their repeat medications as well as view their medical records. Thus, making cancelling appointments an easy one-click process. To supplement this Darwen Healthcare send over 3,100 appointment reminders a month to patients via the myGP app or via SMS. This allows patients to cancel their appointments with a simple response – reducing the number of missed appointments by putting the onus on ease of cancellation to patients. Last month over 100 cancellations were made from the app allowing Darwen Healthcare to recycle cancelled slots to other patients ensuring operational efficiencies, cost savings and above all making sure that patients who needed to receive care did so.
Darwen Healthcare embraces the use of new technology as it makes it easier for patients to achieve what they want to do quickly. Moving forward, Darwen Healthcare is looking to introduce face to face interactive video consultations using the myGP platform to align with the NHS Long-Term Plan which requires the use of digital technology to help meet the demand on health services. The successful and innovative approach by Darwen Healthcare is recognised nationally, judges at the annual General Practice Awards awarded Darwen Healthcare the ‘GP Team of the Year’. Feedback from stakeholders regarding iPLATO is also positive.
“We are very proud of all of our practices and absolutely delighted for Darwen Healthcare for winning this award. The team works extremely hard and being awarded ‘outstanding’ by the CQC and now ‘GP Team of the Year and Practice Nursing Award 2019’ is truly well deserved. Well done to all.4“
Dr Ridwaan Ahmed, Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group’s Clinical Director of Quality and Primary Care
Feedback from stakeholders regarding iPLATO is also positive
“We would like to thank iPLATO for all the help, enthusiasm and support we have received whilst implementing myGP in our practice. Every member of the iPLATO team who we have had the pleasure to interact with so far have been extremely helpful and knowledgeable – the Helpdesk is great and always manage to answer any problems/queries quickly and efficiently. We look forward to fully implementing the myGP video consultations over the next couple of weeks and are sure this will continue to enhance our service as with all the other myGP innovations have so far!”
- https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/appointments-in-general-practice september-2019
- Making Time in General Practice study by the Primary Care Foundation with the NHS Alliance
- https://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk news/18102984.gp-practice-lands-double-awards-joy/