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How can online consultation solutions support Primary Care Networks?
Blog //17-04-2024

How can online consultation solutions support Primary Care Networks?

by Health and Care, OneAdvanced Public Sector

When and why did Primary Care Networks emerge?

Primary Care Networks (PCNs) were first introduced by NHS England in 2019 to improve integrated care for patients and help address financial and workforce sustainability issues in general practice.

Five years on from their formation, there are now 1,250 PCNs across England.  PCNs are groups of GP practices working closely together - along with other healthcare professionals, such as nurses, pharmacists, and mental health teams - to provide integrated health services to their local communities. These networks are designed to enhance service personalisation in communities and foster seamless coordination among various health and care services.

What are the main objectives of PCNs?

One of a PCNs main objectives is to work in collaboration to prioritise the needs of its patients and provide them with high-quality services in a more efficient way that achieves economies of scale. By tailoring services to meet the specific needs of each community, PCNs can make it easier for larger scale commissioning across multiple towns and districts.

At their core, PCNs are about the unification of resources and expertise to tackle broader health system challenges. For the healthcare ecosystem, these collaborative models result in a more efficient use of resources, improved access to care, and streamlined operational processes.

GPs can experience reduced professional isolation and more significant opportunities for learning and innovation. Patients, meanwhile, gain from more coordinated care, a wider range of services, and improved health outcomes.

Collaborative structures in primary care, are on the rise, largely due to the growing recognition that a singular practice may struggle to address the rising needs of a population.

How can technology support PCNs?

Emerging technology and digital innovations play a pivotal role in underpinning the foundations of federated working. By providing a common platform for data sharing and communication, technology enables a more cohesive and effective approach to healthcare delivery.

How can online consultation solutions support PCNs?

Online consultation solutions can be hugely beneficial, not as mere tools but as enablers of efficient, collaborative care. Digital platforms offer a common space where geographically dispersed teams can meet, collaborate, and consult, unshackled by traditional boundaries. By their nature, online consultations are efficient, allowing for quick decision-making and patient management that can be informed by a wider pool of expertise.

Patchs online consultation solution is a secure cloud-based tool that facilitate many of the objectives of a PCN. Patchs’ powerful facilitation of federated working, alongside complete clinical system integration, enables practices to work across different organisations at-scale.

With a single Patchs login, users can access all the practices in a Primary Care Network:

  • Incoming messages: patients submit requests through their practice’s instance of Patchs. Patients do not need to know about the eHub. They simply submit requests as normal, even out of hours.
  • Outgoing messages: PCN/eHub staff can send messages (including questionnaires) and video consultations to any patient who is registered at a practice within the network. Messages can be sent immediately or scheduled in advance. They can be sent by both SMS and email.
  • Clinical system integration: writing to the record uses the practice’s clinical system, so it doesn’t matter if the eHub/PCN uses EMIS Community or another version of EMIS.
  • Unified inbox: this allows you to see incoming patient requests across your practices in one place. You do not need to keep navigating from one practice to the other.
  • Patchs toolbar: this does not work across multiple practices. Instead of using the toolbar to look up a patient, staff will need to search for patients using their NHS number.

Through Patchs, GPs operating within a PCN can also access a wealth of data across a wider community area, enhancing operational insights and facilitating evidence-based decision-making beyond a single practice.

The future of primary care lies in collaborative models underpinned by supportive software solutions. By embracing this approach and equipping themselves with the right solutions, PCNs can lead the charge in fostering the collaborative delivery of primary care services.

To learn more about Patchs, please visit our website.

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Health and Care

Health and Care


OneAdvanced Public Sector

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