Guidance on Triaging Appointments Using the Consult Workflow
We have collated some guidance below on possible ways to approach triaging appointments using the Consult Workflow feature within the Remote Consultation solution.
Please note: We are not able to advise on how to clinically triage appointments. This advice only relates to how to approach using the feature, potential ways of designing a process to triaging appointments, and best-practice around how to communicate with patients.
If you require clinical guidance, please approach your CCG or LMC for assistance, or follow any NHS official guidance issued in response to COVID-19.
Assign staff to this task
The first step is to ensure that you have assigned this task to individuals within the practice. Due to the nature of requests for appointments, you should ensure that a mixture of administrative and clinical staff are assigned. The potential roles who can complete this task are:
- Trained administration or reception staff – to handle any non-clinical requests and/or who have care navigation training
- GP – acting in a triage only role to determine what type of encounter is required, if any
- Nurse / nurse practitioner – who is able to triage appointments
- Paramedic – due to their triage training
This is not an exhaustive list and you should use your own judgement and guidance on what staff roles should be assigned to this task. However, we do highlight that this task should not only be assigned to administrative staff due to the clinical nature of the decision making that is required.
Decide when appointments are triaged
Whilst appointment requests will come in constantly, it is not necessary to try and triage these in real-time. You should view a total triage model as a structured way of working. This allows you to rotate tasks and duties throughout the day.
Top tip: Determine the turn-around time you will provide for each request. It is usually advisable that requests should be action within a business day, providing adequate time for this to be processed and for a patient to have received a response and any follow up action to be initiated.
For the first few weeks, it may be advisable to keep an eye on requests constantly until patterns become evident based on your patient demographics and local demand levels. Remote Consultation reporting will permit you to see the activity levels throughout the week and time of day so you can adequately staff during these times.
Multiple staff triaging appointments
It is possible for more than one person to triage appointments within the Consult Workflow. However, it is advisable that there is coordination between the individuals actioning this list. Each person should work from different parts of the Consult Workflow so they do not potentially try to action items that others are working on.
Use the Flag action button for items that require further work, or need the attention of another member of staff. Use your existing internal messaging solutions to advise staff to review this item.
Use the Thumbs Up icon to mark an item as complete so that what has been processed is clear to other people who may work on this list later.
Specialise for efficiency
When looking to build any efficient process, one of the first things you want to be able to do is to allow staff to niche down on particular tasks. We would recommend rotating staff from task to task through the day to avoid boredom or mental fatigue – there’s only so many prescriptions you can look at.
Allowing staff to specialise on a task for a given amount of time will allow them to process more, as they get into a “groove”. It also allows muscle memory to take over, reducing the mental load of feeling that you have to consciously make every decision and click of the mouse.
You can imagine that it is harder to scan, answer the phone, process prescriptions, man the fax machine, and look through the Consult Workflow.
Rather than process query, query, query, query, query.
Structuring the day in blocks of work is far better.
Go digital first
Ensure that, where possible, you use digital means of communication as a primary option.
Historically, GP surgeries have interacted with patients using telephone calls and face-to-face interactions. A move to digital-first, total triage means that we need to become comfortable with responding to patients electronically.
You can expect to see the following benefits of digital-first interactions:
- Handling time of requests can be reduced
- Removal of wasted effort failing to get through to patients on the phone
- Reduction in interruptions from the telephone
- Faster turn-around of administrative and clinical queries, leading to improved patient satisfaction
- Reduction in telephone traffic as patients learn that digital is a convenient and efficient form of communication
Across myGP Connect and the Remote Consultation solution, you will potentially have all of the following communication channels:
- Two-way chat within each Remote Consultation appointment
- Free myGP Messaging, with two-way capability
- Two way text messaging with individual patients
- Campaign messages for mass communications
- Prescription ordering through myGP
You shouldn’t make it appear to patients that you will never speak to them on the phone, but it should be encouraged that digital communication is very convenient.