Nowadays it is not unusual for most practices to offering at least 30% of their appointments for on the day consultations – many practices now routinely manage 50%+. This is achieved partly by ring-fencing bookable on-the-day appointments and partly by phone-based triage, bringing in patients for so called “urgent” appointments with the duty Doctor.
The problem with ring-fencing same day appointments is simply that you provide access based not on need but on the patient’s’ ability to be sufficiently organised to claim a slot, or convince reception that they have to be squeezed in. Clinical need is not the determining factor. Triaging is a sensible approach because it means you do not see people you don’t actually need to see.
Our view is therefore not to have on-the-day bookable appointments at all without triage and to make your online consultations an integral part of the triaging process – and extend the amount of clinical time devoted to triage by reducing the number of bookable appointments every day in favour of triaged appointments. That way you will have fewer DNAs and be surer that you are only seeing those patients you need to see.
So, if the average practice wants to manage 10% of in’s underlying demand by online consults, that will be 55 consults a week, the daily breakdown – as we’ve already seen, looks like this:
We recommend that clinicians share and ring-face this amount of time every day between them to manage the Engage Consult channel – two thirds of the time in the morning and one third of the time in the afternoon. If each clinician staggers their Engage Consult dedicated times throughout the day, then the channel will be constantly monitored ensuring fast response and this in turn will drive usage – and thereby increasing efficiency. In time you can increase your target patient % via Engage Consult by promotional campaigns to patients – in fact they will drive that increase anyway if you service is good – in this way, your productivity will grow naturally over time.
So, we do suggest a modest change to your working practice, but in the example above, if you did, you would be able to deal with nearly 20 extra patients per week.