We are improving our appointment system!
In response to your feedback relating to appointment availability and difficulties with getting in touch with our practice on the phone, we are introducing a Patient Triage system which means that every medical enquiry is triaged by one of our GPs first. From 29th August you will be asked to complete an online form through our website, and this will enable us to direct your query to the most appropriate person who can help you as quickly as possible. If you do not have internet access our staff will compete this form for your over the phone.
What is Firdale Medical Centre Triage System?
Firdale Medical Centre Triage System was developed by GPs at Firdale Medical Centre to facilitate more efficient handling of the ever-rising demand for primary care appointments. The system uses Patient Triage supplied by AccuRx as the online patient communication platform and relies on the triaging skills of experienced GPs to prioritise resources according to clinical need as well as signpost patients towards the most appropriate services.
This system has also enabled the practice to work towards implementing the BMA’s Safe working in General Practice guidance to ensure Primary Care teams provide patient appointments more flexibly, direct patients to the most appropriate provider of care and prioritise care for those most in need.
How it works
Patient submits an online enquiry using a simple online form. Our system will be opened to submissions from 8am until 4pm Monday – Friday. After 4pm if you have an urgent medical enquiry, you will still be able to call the practice on our usual number.
• We have tried numerous online consulting platforms and settled with AccuRx’s Patient Triage solution because you prefer its simplicity and the ease with which submissions can be made to the surgery.
• We also found that the integration with our clinical system (EMIS Web) is much better than any other platform, with less chance of error.
• The system is fast, smooth, and reliable with minimal downtime and excellent user support.
• Admin staff and triaging doctors also prefer the intuitive user interface and the ease with which submissions can be read and acted upon.
Patient submission enters the Triage Workflow
• All online submissions enter the “To Assign” inbox of the AccuRx Patient Triage system and are divided into Admin and Medical Requests.
• A Care Navigator checks the submissions in both subfolders and forwards the clinical requests to the Triage GP who reviews and actions accordingly.
• Requests not requiring the attention of the Triaging GP are forwarded to an appropriate team (eg. Secretaries, Receptionists, etc).
Submissions are triaged by a Clinician.
• We have found that triaging is best done by experienced GPs. Whilst this takes away a GP from a booked surgery list, we have found that slots are triaged and dealt with much more efficiently.
• On-call triage clinicians cover the morning and the afternoon session. Our morning session runs between 8:30AM and 12:30PM. Our afternoon session runs between 2PM and 6:30PM.
• Our Patient Triage allows the triaging GP to request further information directly from the patient who has submitted a request. Requests can also be made for photographs or copies of any relevant documentation.
• The on-call triage GP diverts as many requests as appropriate to other locally commissioned services such as First Contact Physiotherapists, Community Pharmacists, Care Navigators, etc.
• The Triaging GP categorises requests requiring primary care appointments into Urgent or Routine
• Patients requiring Urgent appointments are seen on the same day.
• Patients requiring Routine appointments will be usually booked within next week or two depending on the GP’s directions and appointment availability.
• Categorising requests for care require careful preparation and thought. We are tweaking our appointments and the proportions of each type of appointment constantly, often resulting in wait times for routine appointments changing. This way of triaging does however ensure that care is prioritised according to clinical need more safely.
What the Firdale Medical Centre Triage System is NOT
Firdale Medical Centre Triage system is NOT a solution to the growing recruitment and retention crisis facing primary care in the NHS. No triage system can solve the severe capacity challenges that UK Primary Care continues to face due to years of underfunding and ever rising demand for healthcare in a free-at-the-point-of-delivery healthcare system. Various governments over the past 20 years have tried to impose various access and triaging schemes onto primary care with limited success as they have failed to address the fundamental issues of limited primary care capacity and unlimited patient demand and we remain sceptical of anyone who thinks that technology or new ways of triaging alone can solve the growing problems faced by patients trying to access the limited capacity of primary care.
Why the system is only opened to submissions from 8am – 4pm Monday to Friday.
It is important that practices can switch off the ability for patients to submit a form especially during evenings, weekends, and bank-holidays. Our conclusion has been that demand in the NHS is unlimited and NHS healthcare is essentially rationed. Traditionally the mechanism of rationing was via wait times on telephones and in queues at GP reception. This method of rationing and limiting demand is bypassed by online patient submission platforms and threatens to overwhelm already limited primary care resources so mechanisms to switch off online submissions are essential.
What will happen if I genuinely cannot complete the form online.
Those patients genuinely unable to use the online form could ask their friends or family members to complete on their behalf or can call the surgery and our Receptionists (Care Navigators) will complete the online form for them.