A Norfolk GP practice has seen appointment waiting times reduced by 90% thanks to a new online patient booking system.
Fakenham Medical Practice says waiting times for appointments have reduced from four weeks to either the same day, or within 72 hours, because of the new system which enables patients to go online and request advice or an appointment without having to telephone.
They can do this 24/7 and the requests are attended to during normal working hours. Patients can still phone if they want.
Patients can ask questions and report symptoms. The practice then looks at the request and responds within a stated timeframe, connecting the patient to the right person, service or support.
Sarah Buchan, CEO at Fakenham Medical Practice said: “We switched from the traditional booking system to the new online programme in October 2019 and we have been delighted with the impact it has had and the feedback we have received from patients in a short time.
“Patients are getting the help they need more quickly and conveniently and, for the surgery, it has reduced the pressure on phone lines and helps ensure face to face appointments are for those who really need it. The new website also gives patients more access and information at their fingertips.
“The programme means patients can ask questions and report symptoms. The practice then looks at the request and responds within a stated timeframe, connecting the patient to the right person, service or support.
“For many people, an online response or phone call from a clinician can resolve their enquiry. However, they can request a face to face appointment if they wish, or a clinician can advise them to come into the surgery if they think a face to face consultation is necessary.”
The surgery has seen a number of benefits for patients including;
- Reduction of 82% in patients who fail to turn up to appointments (DNAs)
- Waiting time dropped from 4 weeks to either same day or within 72 hours
- Patients are able to be seen by the most appropriate clinician
- Reduced waiting times on the phone as more people are using the internet
- Greater amount of routine queries dealt with without the need for patients to visit the surgery.
The new website called Footfall offers much more than online consultations. It is designed to help patients navigate their way to find help in exactly the way they would if they walked into reception. The home page of the website is clearly laid out to help patients to manage their health and regular medicines more easily and request to see a health professional.
Dr Ed Turnham, a GP in Norfolk and Waveney who is the local clinical lead for online consultations said: “The new websites and online consultations are proving hugely popular. Almost every comment received from patients or that we have seen on social media has been very positive.”
Feedback from patients has been overwhelmingly positive, with comments including:
“I submitted a form and then 28 mins later I had been seen and sent away with a prescription. Can’t get better than that!”
“I just wanted to say that since the introduction of the new system, I think it is brilliant. It seems to be a far greater use of resources and you are dealt with in a far more efficient way. Well done!”