Primary Healthcare

“It does provide good value for money. In fact, overall it’s an excellent system that does exactly what it says on the tin.”
James Young Practice Manager White Medical Group

“It has helped with patient communication, improved patient satisfaction and reduced call congestion.”
Simon Royal Practice Manager Burnley Wood Medical

Secondary Healthcare

“It is an excellent system which helps to alleviate congestion, improve staff morale, improve patient access and promote self management. In my opinion, all walk-in clinics should opt to have this system installed.”

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“Not only is VC Smart Mail easy to use once set up, it also saves us time and money,” explains Simon.

“The system sorts all the letters out for us. It also reduces costs in two different ways: firstly in terms of staff time, and secondly the cost of sending the letters out is cheaper than we could do ourselves.”

Surgeries cut costs as postal rates rise

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Surgeries are cutting postage costs when contacting patients by 70% – despite the recent postal rates rise

With Royal Mail price rises effective from last month (April), increasing numbers of GPs are using an online service to reduce the cost of contacting patients. The secure service, known as Medical Messenger with a VC SmartMail component, can reduce the number of letters the surgery needs to send out as well as cutting postage costs.

Practices are using the service to contact large numbers of patients about healthcare initiatives such as flu clinics, screenings or general events, saving an estimated 42% per letter. By giving patients the option to receive information via text message rather than post, surgeries are also able to reduce the number of letters sent out. Text messages are free when sent out via NHS Mail, making an overall combined saving of 70% or more on conventional postage costs.

The Medical Messenger service from unified communications specialists Voice Connect works with the INPS Vision and EMIS clinical databases and FrontDesk appointment manager. VC Smart Mail, which works in conjunction with all clinical databases, offers GPs a ‘pay as you go’ rate, meaning that they pay only for the letters that they send out. The text is uploaded as a word document or PDF and postal mailings are created by securely exporting recipient data from the clinical database. The printing and stuffing of envelopes is automated through an approved fulfilment house.

Burnley Wood Medical Centre in East Lancashire was one of the first practices to have the system in 2010 and uses it regularly. “Communication with patients is very important, but sending out lots of letters can be expensive and takes up a lot of time,” comments Practice Manager Simon Royal. “Not only is the system easy to use once set up, it also saves us time and money. The system sorts all the letters out for us. It also reduces postal costs in two different ways: firstly in terms of staff time and secondly, the cost of sending the letters out is cheaper than we could do ourselves.”

It now costs 50p to send out a standard second class letter via the Royal Mail. When stationery costs, time and printing are also factored in, this figure rises to an estimated 79p compared to the VC SmartMail cost of 38.4p plus VAT (46p), offering a saving of around 33p per letter. When the reduced postal costs are combined with reduced overall letter numbers a saving of around 70% is perfectly achievable.

“Over the last 12 months we have noticed an increase in the number of GP surgeries who have decided to take advantage of the significant savings that the system offers,” comments Stefan Olsberg, Managing Director of Voice Connect. “With the substantial increase in postage costs last month, we have experienced a dramatic surge in enquiries and are expecting even more surgeries to install the system as the postal charges begin to bite into practice budgets.”

Leicestershire based Voice Connect have 20 years of experience working in the healthcare sector, providing GP surgeries with a variety of software solutions to improve patient access and enhance practice management, including their automated telephone appointment booking system Patient Partner.