Thousands of GP surgeries can save time using latest telephone technology

Easy access to Surgery Connect telephone technology will help increase GP practice efficiency, release time to care, and enhance the patient experience

Thousands of GP surgeries across the UK can now improve practice efficiency and gain more time to care for their patients through an agreement that will see the Surgery Connect telephone solution available directly through the EMIS GP clinical system.

Surgery Connect, from X-on, is a cloud-based telephone solution that features – uniquely through one system – services such as telephone triage, appointment reminders, and call recording on a platform that is already helping GP surgeries across the country save time and money.

Now the service is available directly through the EMIS Health clinical system that is used by 55% of the UK primary care market.

We have developed this technology in close collaboration with practices across the country, and we know that integration with primary care clinical systems can make all the difference to a busy GP surgery

This means that GP surgeries can have rapid access to services that increase their efficiency and address wider ambitions such as the GP Forward View in England, which has identified several high-impact areas where practices can release time to care.

One such area is with new forms of GP appointments, such as telephone triage and consultation.

These are believed to help address the access issues that have seen a significant fall in the number of people finding it easy to get through to their surgery, from 79% in 2012 to 68% in 2017, according to the latest GP Patient Survey.

Surgery Connect features Triage Assist, an outbound patient triage system that allows triage calls to be processed methodically and in a structured manner.

This helps GPs deliver such a service more quickly and with direct access to patient information.

Recording Tracker, another feature of the system, provides secure, permission-controlled access to full call recording logs, linked to individual patient records from within the EMIS system. This means that doctors can have a greater understanding of what the patient has discussed with the surgery previously.

The system also provides a platform for future time-saving innovations, such as telephone consultations.

According to NHS England, 60-70% of consultations can be handled entirely on the phone, in an average of 4-6 minutes. This could deliver a 50% improvement in GP productivity, and – with phone recording and rapid access to the patient record – Surgery Connect has the toolset to enable this to happen.

Clinical research and innovation is also possible, by capturing voice data for future analysis in a secure, cloud-based service. Subject to the necessary consents, voice data can potentially be used as part of medical research to improve clinical practice.

Paul Bensley, managing director of X-on, said: “GP surgeries now have, in one place, access to the latest in telephone technology that can help increase practice efficiency and deliver against the vision of the GP Forward View.

From the individual surgery through to clinical commissioning groups, Surgery Connect provides the tools needed for implementing many of the action points proposed in the GP Forward View.

“We have developed this technology in close collaboration with practices across the country, and we know that integration with primary care clinical systems can make all the difference to a busy GP surgery.”

Surgery Connect also delivers benefits to practice managers and reception staff, by helping reduce ‘do not attend’ (DNA) appointments, and by providing an active signposting service for patients.

Cutting DNAs is a high-impact area of the GP Forward View, with GP leaders estimating that over 10 million appointments are lost each year across England because patients do not turn up.

With this new system GP surgery staff can now use the confirm and remind service direct from the patient record, with appointments registered against the patient record and reminders sent out via SMS.

Patients themselves can also book, manage and cancel appointments over the phone using speech recognition, which can also help reduce practice workload as well as cut the number of DNAs.

And reception staff can also fulfil another high-impact action of the GP Forward View by signposting patients to other healthcare services or by providing information such appointment details, through easy and immediate access to the patient record based on the telephone number and confirmed identity of the caller.

Bensley said: “This marks another milestone in the development of Surgery Connect as the complete communications solution for primary care.

“From the individual surgery through to clinical commissioning groups, Surgery Connect provides the tools needed for implementing many of the action points proposed in the GP Forward View.

“With the integration with EMIS Health, thousands of GP practices can now more easily experience benefits of the latest telephone technology.”

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