One of our Flagship practices recently told us that their practice works best when there is a balance of appointment types – the right amount of face-to-face and phone or video appointments can help drive efficiencies as well as reduce the spread of infections.
The benefits to online and phone appointments have been made clear since early 2020; eliminating the risk of transmitting Covid-19, improving access, convenience, reducing wait times, are just a few pros – but primary care providers have also been publicly warned not to favour phone and video appointments over traditional in-person consultations.
While the vast majority of practices have been able to offer face-to-face appointments, it cannot be denied that demand continues to outstrip capacity.
Offer and promote remote
GPs are now contractually required to ‘offer and promote’ remote consultations during core hours, NHS England guidance has confirmed. Practices should now offer online and video consultation tools, plus other electronic communication methods. The requirement to offer and promote remote consultations during routine hours was agreed as part of the five-year contract announced in 2019.
So with this in mind, and in the midst of Omicron, how do GPs ensure the balance is right?
Catering to all appointment types
We’ve seen first-hand how having a one-stop-shop solution enables Practice Managers and clinical teams to engage with patients effortlessly. Desktop GP, our clinical toolbar has been helping GPs engage with patients via video and SMS without leaving the clinical system.
With integrated video consultations and user friendly templates, Desktop GP is supporting clinicians to give even better care. Clinicians can easily send individual patients messages and initiate video consultations too, and the toolbar enables each clinician to favourite their most-used messages to speed up workflows.
An age-old issue
Some of our flagships have told us that their younger patient demographics are happy to continue with video and phone consultations, compared to older age groups, who still favour face-to-face visits.
The new shape of general practice
As yet another Covid variant teamed with traditional winter challenges creates extreme challenges for GPs, it is difficult for those immersed so deeply within primary care to think about a life beyond the pandemic. Now is a crucial time for technology providers like Mjog to ensure new approaches and innovations are available to practices with ease, and that is just what we are continuing to do.
The balancing act between virtual and face-to-face appointments looks set to continue over the coming months, but monitoring the data, working closely with both admin and clinical teams, and continually gathering feedback from patients will ensure the right appointment style is available to everyone, when they need it.