Whitehill Surgery services around 15,000 patients in the Aylesbury Vale area, including the most deprived demographics for the Aylesbury area. Whitehill Surgery have formed a Patient Group whose remit included helping to deliver improvements to practice communications.
Because of the number of patients using PAYG mobile plans in their area, Whitehill Surgery realised that they needed to reduce call queue waiting times. Jessica Walsh, IT/Operations Manager at Whitehill Surgery, explains: “Patients were facing health inequalities and not because of any prejudice or ill treatment, but because the services were inaccessible for their individual needs and requirements. We are a surgery with the most deprived patients in our area, some patients were using up all their credit holding in the queue; some patients would run out of credit and lose their place and there were those who were too ill to leave the house but had no credit to call us. This is heart-breaking feedback to hear, we had to do something about this, we do not want any health inequalities when it comes to having access to a GP.”
Their legacy phone system did not have any mechanism for reducing call waiting times, nor for providing callers information that might help alleviate the pressure during busy times.
Surgery Connect comes with an array of features to help practices manage call queues. Various real time and downloadable reporting systems ensure administrators are aware of the numbers of patients queueing, how long they’re waiting and for which department. This aids administrators to most effectively deploy staffing resources.
Patient Callback is another feature very effective in reducing queue length and making contacting the practice significantly easier for patients, especially those on PAYG mobile plans. Patient Callback retains a caller’s queue position and calls them back when they would have reached the front of the queue. Jessica explains: “We changed the settings to suit our needs, but this is how our appointment system works: If you are over 10th place you will have the option to be called back, you will then be called back by a member of staff when the call would be at the front of the queue. If a patient on a mobile phone fails to answer, or is busy, a text message will be sent to inform them that they have missed the call. If you call back the same day as missing our call, the Surgery Connect system will prioritise the call, so you do not have to wait in the queue again.”
HM (August 2022): “I have been with this surgery for 20 years, it had gone downhill, but I have to say that the last 4 times I have had to contact them over the last 3 months everything has been really slick. The call back service (rather than holding) when you call them for an appointment seems to work really well. Great service – in trying times.”
Karen (August 2022): “I called the surgery first thing and was offered a queue buster call back, which was great as it meant I didn’t have to hold on for a long time. I got my call back and a telephone appt was arranged for the same day. After the call my GP wanted to see me and booked an appt to see me the same day.”Patient Feedback, Whitehill Surgery