We are currently touring practices across the UK, meeting practices that have the highest number of patients engaged with online services through myGP. We want to understand the benefits that myGP has brought to staff and patients, as well as learning and sharing any hints and tips practices have for promoting myGP to its patients.
We took a trip down south and went to Rochester, Kent. With history dating back centuries, there are many things to see around here and driving through the oldest castles in the UK to get to Castle Medical Practice was rather enjoyable.
We caught up with Tina, the Practice Manager and Jessica, one of the receptionists.
Tell us a bit about Castle Medical Practice
“We are a very small team, we have 2 female GPs but they work part-time. With one GP on the rota per day it’s a challenge to balance phone calls, appointment booking telephone consultations and online bookings. There is also emergencies, home visits and the occasional baby emergency to manage within one rota – so it can be very difficult to reach the recommended 25% of appointments being available online.
We are trying to recruit, now that we have joined the PCN, but there’s still a lot of demands on the surgery and we are finding that there’s a lot of pressure onto us to merge with other surgeries.
Right now, we are trying to hold off on that because we are quite a successful surgery. But… at the end of the day, we do only have one rota with one doctor in a day.
Having patients enrolled in online services reduces the telephone calls to the surgery, especially in the morning – it’s about providing an additional avenue to book appointments..
Patients do like this option, but we have only offered them appointments up to 2 weeks in advance – not further, to try and best manage the GPs diaries.
How do you encourage patients to sign up to online services?
Firstly, it’s verbally when they register with us.
We are always in discussions with patients to let them know that the myGP app is another way to book appointments and there is always really positive feedback from them about the app.
myGP really helps us, – we use all the technology we can to help us manage patient demand as we try to triage from reception.The administrative team are very proactive in promoting the app as soon as a patient registers with us. We have been operating a manual list of over 4,000 people but with just the one GP so myGP is really welcomed to ease the burden.
Tina, Practice Manager
We then had a chat with Jessica, one of the receptionists who is soon going on Maternity Leave.
Tell us a bit about your role in the surgery
On a day-to-day, I do everything; prescriptions, emails, referrals, calling patients for their reviews and I send out quite a lot of text messages. I do everything and anything – we are all upskilled to be able to do anything within the practice.
How do you let patients know about the myGP app?
Quite often this is when they phone up and they can’t get an appointment. Quite a lot of people ring in the afternoon asking for an appointment for that day and obviously, of course, we haven’t got any.
So, I normally say to ring in the morning at 8am or to try to book an appointment through the app – if they don’t have the app, 9 out of 10 times they download it and we also attach leaflets to the registration documents.
How do you deal with patients that may be a bit difficult?
You have to remember that in a every call you are dealing with a different patient, although sometimes it could be difficult, you can’t take it out on them.
It’s difficult but you have to remember that some patients are unwell and there is obviously a reason for them to moan at you. I just take it with a pinch of salt and don’t take it personal.
The myGP app, definitely reduces the calls and the amount of times people ring up. Patients like that the appointments are released before we open, and it does help if they are up in the night unwell.