Busy Phone Lines Lead Decision to Opt for Patient Partner
The Surrey & Branch Medical Practice is comprised of two sites. Both surgeries are housed in a modern, purpose-built premises, having merged to become one practice in April 2008. The practice employs 30 staff across the two sites, including 6 partners and 2 GP retainers, as well as 5 practice nurses and staff in various clinical and administrative roles. They have approximately 10,300 patients on their list.
As the phone lines were always busy at both sites, the partners and business manager at The Surrey & Branch Medical Practice decided that installing an automated appointment booking service would help ease the pressure on reception as part of their aim of ‘providing family based care in a modern and progressive environment.
“We felt that installing the Patient Partner system would ease phone congestion at busy times and offer patients a better service,” explains the Business Manager. “This would also help ease their frustration with the difficulties of obtaining appointments. We did have some concerns before going ahead: mainly about the cost and whether the level of patient uptake would make it viable, but decided to go for it.”
However, the Business Manager and her team at The Surrey & Branch Medical Practice have worked hard to ensure that patients know about the system. They have produced an information leaflet for patients, which is also accessible from the practice’s comprehensive website
“We find that our patients are much happier as they know they will be able to get through.”
”We felt that installing the system would ease phone congestion at busy times and offer patients a better service.”
“The Surrey & Branch Medical Practice has the goal of providing family-based care in a modern and progressive environment.”
The Business Manager reports that Patient Partner has lived up to expectations and has made a tangible difference within the practice. “Using the system has provided us with many benefits,” the Business Manager comments. “It has achieved the objective of reducing congestion at peak call times, which in turn frees up time for our receptionists to get on with other tasks. We have also found that, by making it easier to cancel appointments at any time, our DNA rate has reduced.
Patient reaction to the system has also been positive and the Business Manager feels that it has increased patient satisfaction by making it easier for them to get in touch with staff at both surgeries. It has also changed the way our patients make appointments: we have found that the vast majority of appointments booked using the system are done so out of hours.
The Business Manager also reports that using the system has enabled them to change the way that calls are handled for the better.
Having the system has given the receptionists another option to offer the patient, i.e. that if they ring back after 6.30pm, appointments will be released during the evening, or if they ring back at 1pm, appointments are released during the lunch hour. This is an additional option to the usual one of ringing back next morning or at 2pm. We find that our patients are much happier as they know they will be able to get through to try and make an appointment out of hours.
There is no doubt that the installation of Patient Partner at The Surrey & Branch Medical Practice has had a positive impact on staff and patients. “Patient Partner is an excellent product which has revolutionised the way patients can access appointments,” comments the Business Manager. “It has created considerable savings in reception time. It does need to be advertised and fully utilised to get the best from the system, but any surgery considering giving it a go will reap the benefits – and in a fairly short time frame.