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Reducing the Limitation of Time on the GP Workload – Part Two

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In my last post, I started to explore some of the best practices that have been investigated by NHS England and seen to improve patient experience and care, and simultaneously reduce the time burden on GPs. In this second part of two, I’m going to explore how methods of working might also free time in the GP practice, before discussing development of staff and culture.

Redesigning and redefining workflow

By redesigning working practices, workflows can be streamlined and the need for second and third GP consultations slashed. There are five distinct areas in which this can be instituted:

Matching capacity with demand, restructuring rotas on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. To do this effectively, the practice will need to capture and analyse patient demand for services, and schedule routine work for less busy periods.

Patients who have long-term conditions benefit from continuity of care, including consultation with the same clinician, and this allows for more appropriate and faster care decisions to be made. If multiple issues need to be addressed, it is better for the patient to have one long appointment rather than having to return on several occasions.

Streamlining the follow-up process can be achieved by having a GP led process that enables the GP to make diagnosis and care management plans and then follow a standard process of follow-up in uncomplicated cases.

Ensuring the workspace is designed for maximum productivity can be achieved at little cost but produce a domino effect of time saving gains. For example, changing where printers and information sources are will have a positive impact in reception areas.

Make information accessible and administration easy, by using searchable intranets and adjusting internal processes to reduce the time it takes to complete administrative tasks. GP practices should get their employees on board to identify what processes can be improved and how.

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Increase personal productivity

Resources and training should be provided to enable individuals to work more effectively. This includes helping people to be more resilient (de-stressing), providing coaching and training for greater computer literacy, speed-reading, and touch-typing skills.

Collaborating with others

A new model of working is suggested, increasing scale and drawing community care together. For example, community healthcare might be better provided through an access hub that includes:

Specialists

Community pharmacies

Community services

Community optometrists

Nursing homes

The concept of creating GP practice federations is gathering momentum, with advantages of scale used to reduce costs of purchasing, standardized policies and procedures that require development only once rather than by each individual practice, and sharing specialist staff between practices.

Support self-care

Providing advice and signposting to more appropriate services, a systematic approach to supporting patients to care for themselves. This might include offering health coaching and training and support in the community, and providing access to information and support to help patients manage their condition.

What does it all add up to?

The nine action points discussed across this post and the previous are all about reducing the burden on the GP practice, and changes that practices could make. However, reaping the benefits of these initiatives will not be easily won. It is a large scale project to redesign the way in which care is delivered while maintaining the aspects of personal care currently provided by the GP practice. This requires organisation, planning, and management.

Here at eSupplies, we understand the positive impact that utilising modern technology can have on a business. Initiating and then following through with lean business methods in the GP practice could transform the business model and provision of quality care. Equally important in the process of change and improvement is a culture shift, a willingness to develop and iterate best working practices. The new strategy needs strong leadership, supporting the redesign of services and continuous quality improvement.

How will you develop your practice for the 21st century? What time saving processes have you put in place from which others could learn? How do your GPs utilise technology for the benefit of patient care?

We’d love to hear from you, and discuss your successes with other readers and followers.

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If you have any questions or feedback, please do not hesitate to contact me -alex.henman@esuppliesmedical.co.uk - 01865 261451

eSupplies Medical is a trading name of Williams Medical Supplies Ltd, a DCC business