Worcestershire CCGs use advanced telephony to improve patient access

Three CCGs across Worcestershire are rolling out advanced telephony services across the region’s GP surgeries to improve patient access and meet efficiency targets.

South Worcestershire, Redditch and Bromsgrove and Wyre Forest CCGs are deploying the Surgery Connect system to replace outdated and expensive phone systems that are currently in place.

The system is planned to be installed across a total of 64 practices as old phone contracts run their course, with initial deployment starting in the summer.

The CCGs hope that the move provides patients with easier access to healthcare, enables staff to work more efficiently and remotely, and gives doctors a cost-effective platform to reduce DNAs and deliver new ways of consultations.

The cloud-based system will allow patients to manage their own appointments over the phone, letting them contact any one of several surgeries in evening and weekends to arrange appointments.

The system also supports remote and mobile working, so that GPs and other healthcare staff can be in contact with patients via a mobile app. GPs can carry out consultations over the phone and, ultimately, will be able to do the same through video.

Other things such as performance dashboards identify the number of calls, helping practices and commissioners manage demand on services.

The system is being installed to help the region achieve its digital plans and meet the vision for more efficient, effective, integrated health and care outlined in its Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) plans.

James Harley, primary care IT lead for the CCGs, said: “Joined up telephony was one of the priorities for our LDR. We saw that lots of GP practices were paying too much for their phone systems, which were often antiquated and did not have the functionality required to support new ways of working. With Surgery Connect, we saw that the system had been designed with GP input, and built to meet the needs of practices.”

“If someone drills through the Internet connection at a practice, we can quickly switch the phone system over to mobile devices so there is no loss of service for patients or staff,” Harley continued.

Once the infrastructure is in place, the CCGs will look to extend use of the phone system to other care settings, such as community providers.

And as the technology is cloud-based, scale is not an issue, Harley explained, “It gives us a great opportunity for more joined up working.”

Reece Armstrong is a reporter for Digital Health Age. Coming from the North East of England, Reece has an MA in Media & Journalism and a BA in Popular & Contemporary Music from Newcastle University. Reach him on Twitter or email via: reece.armstrong@rapidnews.com

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