An automated telephone service for booking and managing appointments has been identified as an ‘innovative way’ of improving patient access by the Care Quality Commission.
Friarwood Surgery in Pontefract was rated as outstanding in their recent Quality Report. The practice was praised for increasing ‘the flexibility of access to appointments’ by implementing the 24/7 automated appointment system.
The surgery, which has 9 GPs and more than 13,000 patients, was also commended for their proactive response to patient feedback. This resulted in the installation of the telephone service, known as Patient Partner, in 2014. In a standard month, around 750 appointments will be made, changed, cancelled or reviewed using the automated system.
“We have an active Patient Participation Group who identified access to appointments as an issue,” explains Practice Manager Kevin Duggan. “As a result, we decided to look at ways of improving the situation. In addition to the automated appointment booking system, which has been a great success, we also extended the number of available pre-bookable appointments and increased our use of advanced nurse practitioners to triage on the day demand for appointments.”
Friarwood also has an online booking system, which combines with the automated system to make it easier to book appointments. Around one third of GP appointments are booked using the systems.
Kevin adds: “Because people can use Patient Partner as well as online services to check, cancel and amend appointments 24/7, we have been able to reduce the number of DNAs.”