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Customisable technology is the next step for 21st century primary care
Blog //02-06-2023

Customisable technology is the next step for 21st century primary care

by Health and Care, OneAdvanced Public Sector

The ‘one size fits all’ method of accessing primary care services via in person appointments is rapidly becoming a thing of the past in the post-pandemic era. Traditional face-to-face appointments have been increasingly supplemented with by remote consultation solutions, capable of offering telephone, SMS and video appointments first, depending on patient need.

And as practices embrace new consultation technologies, they will inevitably discover key capabilities they need to address the specific challenges they face, perhaps to enhance patient interaction or appointment management.

Digital solutions underpin primary care delivery and should not be constrained by rigid functionalities. We believe that technology should be aligned with practice operations rather than hindering them. This means being flexible to the changing needs that all GP practices face every single day.

How customisable primary care solutions benefit patients

Ultimately, primary care practitioners want their patients to have straightforward access to the support they need. So, no matter how complex the customisation may seem, a good consultation solution needs to ensure these functionalities work alongside traditional processes, providing equitable, uncomplicated access for the user.

Empowering patients

Already, we have seen a shift away from the traditional ten minute face-to-face appointment, with more and more patients having a digital first consultation with their GP. Remote consultations have given patients the opportunity show preference for the type of appointment they would like.

In fact, three out of ten of the 29.6 million GP appointments that took place in January 2023 were delivered via an alternative approach to a face-to-face appointment.

From telephone, SMS and video calls to language translation and image / document uploading, online consultation solutions are empowering patients to have more control over their care journey.

Some online consultation solutions may also offer flexible capabilities that help patients self-manage complex and long-term conditions without being on-site. Digital tools can offer a prescription service, so patients can either view their existing medication themselves or by messaging the practice.

Improving patient experience

Consumers in all industries are becoming increasingly confident and comfortable using online services. Banking and retail are two examples where the industry has adopted digital technologies to enhance user experience, and primary care is no exception.

More and more patients are requesting appointments digitally; in a 2021 study by The Health Foundation, they found that 72% of all patient requests were initiated online. Considering the growing preference for digital primary care coupled with more empowered digital users overall, it reinforces the fact that digital tools need to not only be functional but are also designed specifically to enhance patient experience.

Customisable functionalities such as landing page communications of opening hours and welcome messages or setting custom signposting for specific clinical topics means that even as the service faces growing demand and pressure, patients are still able to receive clear and open communication from their general practice.

How customisable primary care solutions benefit practitioners

Of course, enhancing patient experience is at the forefront to any digital adoption, but we can’t forget that digital tools need to be equally useful for the health professionals providing the care and managing the technology. Therefore, customisable functionalities need to be both powerful and straightforward to not add strain on staff in an already pressured service.

Tailor to specific need

When general practices found themselves having to quickly implement remote consultation technologies at the start of the pandemic, there wasn’t as much choice available as there is now. This meant many had to try and fit their day-to-day operations around the technology, rather than adjusting the tech around the practice’s actual needs.

New cloud-based solutions responded, offering customisable features that help relieve some of the specific challenges primary care faces. In other words, allowing practices to tweak the software to accommodate their particular needs.

For example, some software solutions may offer a workflow limitation, allowing practices to ‘switch off’ incoming digital patient requests during times of peak workload, so their staff never get overwhelmed.

Artificial intelligence is another way digital tools can be customisable. Practices may be able to choose which form of artificial intelligence support they need most, whether it is to flag request urgency or a certain topic, such as a mental health related query.

Improve efficiency

As we have already mentioned, healthcare solutions are rapidly evolving. As a result, some primary care systems become inefficient and unable to integrate with other technologies. And these complications can cause more challenges and barriers for practitioners.

Artificial intelligence, again, is a key functionality that can improve the efficiency of care delivery. This capability helps GPs redirect flagged requests to other services which, on one hand, ensures patients get the right support quicker but also means the practice has more control over its workflow.

Innovative online consultation solutions will also ensure interoperability, so practitioners can view and share care records quickly and easily. Integration between systems could be to allow for data reporting, access electronic patient records (ERPs) or for health professionals to collaborate across primary care networks (PCNs) depending on the type of optimisation available.

What customisable functionalities should you look for in a primary care solution?

Workflow Limiter

Practices can easily become overstretched when receiving an influx of patient requests, especially during the winter period. This can make it difficult to effectively prioritise patients and deliver the service they require. When looking for an online consultation solution, it is useful to consider whether it will allow you to set a limit on the volume of digital requests coming in at peak times.

Digital tools can allow you to set the number of requests that patients can submit by type, day of week, and time of day so you can quickly manage incoming online queries during times of peak workload.

Messaging Templates

Many thousands of GP practice are experiencing enormous demand, but there are only so many GPs available and hours in the day.

An online consultation solution could give you the option to build your own templates and questionnaires. This means your GPs can save time by sending pre-set questions to their patients or have custom templates built so they can gather specific information.

Artificial Intelligence

A modern online consultation solution will employ innovative artificial intelligence to help reduce practice workload, improve clinical safety and patient experience. Technologies can allow you to choose which artificial intelligence modules you would like to use depending on your practice need.

A leading example of how customisable technology can help bring primary care delivery into the 21st century is PATCHS.

A cloud-based solution, PATCHS is designed to make it quick and easy for patients to keep in touch with their GP virtually. Utilising customisable messaging templates, demand limiter functionality and award winning artificial intelligence, PATCHS can bring greater flexibility to your primary care service.

Download our brochure to discover more – PATCHS Brochure

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OneAdvanced Public Sector

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