Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

Personalising patient care with virtual GP appointments

May 11, 2017

It seems as though almost every week there are news reports about the difficulties experienced by patients trying to book GP appointments.

From busy working parents to patients with limited mobility, and from full time carers to people living in areas with limited public transport, finding a GP appointment that fits in with work commitments, school hours or bus timetables can be a challenge.

And an ageing population, more of us than ever presenting with chronic conditions, plus a national shortage of GPs, all present significant challenges to General Practice across the UK.

 Digitalising general practice

Anything that can help GP surgeries use their time and valuable resources more efficiently is welcome news – and increasingly, digital is providing some of the answers.

Across primary and secondary care, video technology is being used more and more to make patient/clinician communication easier. Take GP provider company Stellar Healthcare for example. Working alongside Cisco partner Cinos Communications Services, it has developed a simple and cost effective way of improving access to GP services for many patients living in the North and East London Commissioning Support Unit (NEL CSU) area.

Cloud-based appointments

Together, they have developed HealthConnect, a cloud-based service that enables patients to book secure video appointments with clinicians, using Cisco Jabber® Guest. Once the video call has been booked, the patient receives an automatically generated email containing a unique link for their appointment. The receptionist then verifies each patient’s identity before transferring them to the virtual waiting room.

The system is incredibly easy to use. Patients don’t have to download any software to use service and don’t even need a user name or password.

Better for patients and GP staff

With shorter waiting times for appointments and the ability to speak with their GP from at home, or even from their workplace, it’s not surprising that the service is so popular with patients.

For surgeries, it means that GPs and nurses are more available to patients across the area, while reducing the number of home visits, which has freed up valuable nurse. It also helps GPs across the NEL CSU area pool their resources to fill any gaps in provision, which again improves services for patients. And because HealthConnect extracts information from existing patient records, there is no extra work involved for administration staff.

Importantly, HealthConnect runs on the N3 network, ensuring information remains private and there is no compromise to patient confidentiality.

Virtual reality

It’s almost an irony to say that remote appointments are making clinicians more available to patients and creating a more personalised and convenient service for each individual, but virtual consultations are helping NEL CSU GP surgeries deliver more convenient, flexible care. And all Stellar Healthcare practices now use HealthConnect

While there is no single answer to GP shortages and the many demographic changes that place ever-increasing pressure on surgeries, Stellar Healthcare estimates that video consultations have the potential to reduce missed appointments by 40 percent and help make consulting time 60-70 percent more productive.

Want to know more?

Find out more about HealthConnect and the Cisco technology behind it by reading the case study.

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