RCGP Bright Ideas: ProActiveGP Virtual Clinic

04 January 2019

Dr Muhammed Akunjee with colleague

Dr Muhammed Akunjee (pictured left) with a colleague from West Green Surgery in North London

The RCGP recognises GPs, practices, and patients who come up with ideas that improve efficiency and reduce workload in primary care with Bright Ideas Awards

In 2018, the College recognised GP, Dr Muhammed Akunjee, from West Green Surgery in the Haringey area of North London with a Bright Ideas Award for ProActiveGP Virtual Clinic, a system which makes contacting patients more efficient, automated, and safer. The software reduces face-to-face GP appointments through pre-emptive SMS messaging, freeing them up for patients with more pressing clinical needs. 

In 2014, West Green Surgery changed its method of managing blood results and moved to proactive SMS after noting that many patients were booking appointments for follow ups with the GP to discuss blood results or scan results, with a large majority wanting simple reassurance for normal results. 

The Surgery set up an outlook signature template for a range of common conditions that had messages that could be sent via the nhs.net network to inform patients of their results. However, the method to do so was slightly laborious and was not that easy to teach clinicians. 

Chronic disease clinics at the practice were experiencing the highest DNA (did not attend) rates of 14 percent compared to five percent for routine or urgent doctor’s appointments. This made staff and doctors providing the chronic disease clinics frustrated and disheartened by missed appointments. 

The team at West Green Surgery required a more efficient the process of communication that could also educate and help patients understand their most recent results. 

Dr Akunjee and his team created software that performed three functions and uses the existing NHSmail infrastructure, that would allow them to:  

  • send clinical SMS messages to patients covering abnormal blood and scan results 

  • send password protected blood test request forms to patients via email with passwords send by SMS text  

  • email e-Referral appointment files to patients with a password sent via SMS text to ensure two-step protection to prevent unsolicited access 

Following an audit after two months, the Surgery found that Dr Akunjee’s Bright Idea freed up at least 40 appointments weekly, leading to estimated savings of £20,000 per year of clinical appointments.  Increasing access has kept waiting times down, led to a drop in the number of patients attending the surgery for follow-up results and made it easier and quicker for the admin staff to send patients their results via email without worrying about breaching patient confidentiality. 

Shanaz Chowdhury, Senior Receptionist at West Green Surgery, said: “Sending the patients their e-Referral booking letters has made it easier for the reception and administration staff to give patients their booking forms. This has reduced the follow up telephone calls for patients who lost their forms and has made the process much easier for us. We no longer have to ring the patient to pick up their form, as we cannot always get through and there used to be a lot of forms not picked up possibly resulting in many missed hospital appointments.”

Bright Ideas Workshops

The College is organising workshops to share some of the Bright Ideas to help GPs try new approaches to improve the quality of care and adapt to the changing primary care landscape.

If you would like to attend the workshops, please complete the Bright Ideas Expression of Interest form and send it to: brightideas@rcgp.org.uk. 

We'd like to hear from you!

If you would like to be considered for the 2019 Awards, please contact us by emailing: brightideas@rcgp.org.uk. You can submit your own Bright Idea to be showcased on our website by completing this online form. 

 

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