We have recently made some changes to the way patients can contact us at Brownlow Health.
Why did we change things?
It is a priority for us to ensure that we are responding quickly to the most urgent need, which is a big challenge when dealing with high levels of demand.
We have also recently audited our clinician appointment use, and identified that a high proportion of appointments could have been dealt with more effectively in another way, which may be another type of clinician, or without even the need for the patient to attend the practice.
Getting this right means a more efficient use of services, and also a smoother journey for the patient. We want to help patients see the ‘right person, in the right place, at the right time’.
However, having multiple possible options can be confusing for patients, and runs the risk of care being more accessible to those who are better equipped to know the system.
What are we now offering?
We therefore now provide clinical triage, meaning a clinician reviews medical queries and requests for appointments and decides the most appropriate next step, whether it is a phone call, text message, eConsultation (email) or an appointment with the most appropriate clinician at the right time.
We encourage patients to use eConsult for any contact with the practice, urgent and routine, clinical and non-clinical, this will be responded to by the end of the next working day.
“The end of the next working day”? What if my problem is urgent?
In reality we often respond much sooner than the end of the next working day, but to ensure that urgent problems are dealt with promptly, we have a rapid-triage system at key points in the day to ensure those problems are made a priority.
In addition, eConsult has a built in safety net to flag up critical medical problems, and in certain cases will advise the user to dial 111 or 999.
Why aren’t we doing the clinical triage by telephone?
We know from our eConsult pilot that we can triage with eConsult much quicker than over the telephone. This is in part because more information is made available within an eConsult, and also because it doesn’t rely on the clinician and the patient being available at exactly the same time.
What about patients who can’t use the internet. Aren’t you being exclusive?
Patients who are unable/unwilling to use eConsult (for any reason) are offered a telephone triage call with a clinician the same day to agree on next steps. Please note that after 4pm we will only respond to urgent calls.