Using intelligent contact forms in GP Surgeries
to handle an increase in patient enquiries
An unpredictable and seemingly unstoppable increase in patient enquiries to GP Surgeries resulting from the COVID-19 virus has, in a relatively short period placed an unprecedented strain on Surgery resources.
At the heart of the problem lies 2 issues :
firstly, as front line administration staff become unable to attend work due to either self-isolation or illness, practices have less telephone answering and call handling capacity to cope with increased enquiries and;
secondly, the reduced presence of clinical staff for similar reasons could result in a backlog of patients receiving medical advice in a timely manner.
How can intelligent contact forms help?
1. Giving Surgeries the control to quickly and easily build a form for themselves that can be added to the Practice website or sent as a unique link to patients by SMS text message - speed and flexibility being key to the daily changing situation.
2. Form questions can be structured so that patients can simply select the reasons for contacting the Surgery and explain the issues concerning them.
3. Having a form that is capable of working for all patients with Internet access via PC, laptop, ipad or smartphone.
4. Configuring the form to route patient submissions to the most relevant person based on the medical/ other selections made by patients during the submission will help with triage, best utilisation of resources and ease pressure on telephone lines.
5. Provide all vital GDPR, patient confidentiality and security compliance.
Westlands Medical Center, Hampshire - a Case Study
Located in Fareham, Hampshire, Westlands Medical Centre recently experienced a rapid increase in registered patients contacting the Surgery almost overnight as the UK Government commenced briefings to the public regarding measures to help contain and slow the spread of the virus.
Practice Partner, Dr Emma Nash, realising that an alternative way of handling incoming enquiries to ease the pressure on telephones was required, started looking for a solution. Her criteria included :-
- a solution she could implement and tweak for herself;
- was easy for patients to access and use;
- provided appropriate data security and GDPR compliance;
- represented value for money.
Having looked at the idea of an online form builder Dr Nash signed up on a Friday afternoon for a 21-day free trial of the secure UK hosted pro-Forms® Online Forms solution.
By teatime of the same Friday afternoon and after some advice via online chat help, Dr Nash had successfully built herself a prototype contact form for Westlands' Patients to access.
Over the weekend tweaks and improvements were made by Emma to her contact form to add some intelligent routing of form submissions from the system to the NHS email addresses of colleagues which matched GP specialisms to the medical issues selected by patients on the form.
On Monday evening a link to the now intelligent contact form was placed onto a page of the Practice website.
|Within the first 7 days the new contact form was filled in and submitted by nearly 700 patients - equivalent to 10 less phone calls/hour or 1 every 6 minutes.|
Completed forms were automatically routed to teams according to clinical specialism for triage and then contact by phone or video chat by AccuRX.
|Instant analytics provided valuable insight to why, how and when patients wanted to access a range Surgery services.|
|The online dashboard provided full visibility of patterns of patient contact behaviour.|
|GDPR tools in the system automatically delete all submitted form data from the secure server after they have been sent to official NHS email addresses.|
Interested in intelligent contact forms for your Surgery?
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