Published on Nov 7, 2019
A new online consultation service could change the way patients across North East Lincolnshire receive medical advice from their GP practice.
North East Lincolnshire Practices are using digital technology to offer patients a choice to consult online if they wish. In some cases this new service will mean people will not need to make a visit to the actual practice to gain the help and care they need. 13 practices in the area so far are providing the online consultation service to registered patients and it is expected that all practices will be able to offer this type of support in the near future.
Patients who submit their symptoms online will get a reply from their practice and receive a response which could include helpful advice, signposting to other support services such as the pharmacy, or being booked in for an appointment if necessary. The GP practice’s website will state how soon people can expect to receive a response.
The service provides people with access to reliable NHS self-help health information. This includes signposting to appropriate services, and a symptom checker that may help people avoid the need for an appointment. Patients can also request things such as repeat prescriptions and sick notes. The online system is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week, however, practices will respond within the agreed time specified on their website.
Dr Menon, GP at Chantry Health Group said, “The system allows a more flexible approach for patients to contact the practice without trying to get through via the very busy telephone system or having to make a journey to the practice. Patients are able to submit their request to the practice which can be dealt with in a time appropriate manner; online consultations are an aid to practices being able to prioritise workloads effectively”.
Local Care Homes can also use the system to seek quick access to help and information to support them in caring for their residents. Stacey Chester, Manager at Cloverdale Care Home said, “The system is live 24/7 and I can submit queries, such as medication requests, anytime day or night. I know they will be looked at when the practice opens, allowing me to spend more time with residents.”
Karen Nickerson, Primary Care Commissioning Officer at North East Lincolnshire CCG said “The system provides patients with a convenient way to get access to health advice. We are hoping that uptake will increase as more patients become aware of the system and that it will also result in more effective use of clinical time. Initial feedback is encouraging”.
To use the system, patients need to visit their own GP practice website, check whether they are offering the service currently, and access the online system directly from there.