It has been well documented that Covid-19 has exacerbated access problems in general practice, and patients have reported finding it difficult to book appointments and access treatment. Waiting times throughout the NHS have also continued to be cause for concern, with patients seeking more help from their GP practice as hospital appointments and procedures are delayed.
It therefore remains crucially important that primary care providers have a range of tools at their disposal to continue to offer the best possible care.
Accessing patients remotely
Remote patient monitoring is one such approach helping to support GPs in accessing large groups of people. During the height of the pandemic, the benefits of this approach were truly realised. Remote monitoring tracks and gathers patient data outside of the standard healthcare settings and allows clinicians to monitor patients without having to come into close contact with them. It is also an effective way to monitor patients who are already living with one or more conditions, as well as those who are known to be at risk of developing serious illnesses.
While the growth of remote patient monitoring was driven by the need to care for patients at home during the pandemic, this increase is likely to continue post-Covid as healthcare providers create new remote monitoring programs to address evolving patient needs.
Effective monitoring tools
Patient questionnaires are proving to be an effective remote monitoring tool as practices can send patient questionnaires to a mailing list of any size, at once. They can be an ideal way to gather important data, quickly.
When the patient submits a questionnaire the response goes back to the practice, where it can be reviewed and automatically coded to the patient’s medical record.
Questionnaires can be run for lots of different conditions and scenarios, and they enable practices to easily access structured information from specific groups of patients, without making phone calls, sending letters, or coding information into the patient record.
Improving QOF processes
Patient questionnaires can also make the QOF process more efficient for practices, as they spend less time chasing patients by telephone and manually coding patient responses.
NHS England is continuing to look at ways to reduce workload pressures on GPs and staff by redesigning current systems to make them more efficient and effective. As primary care continues to feel the impact of the pandemic, remote patient monitoring has an important role to play in helping to improve patient outcomes at scale, and getting our health service back on track.