A new automated telephone appointment system is being rolled out across 25 of our 27 member practices to provide patients with an additional way to contact their GP. The round-the-clock telephone system means that patients can choose their preferred appointment time, cancel, amend or check an appointment at the touch of a button, any time of the day or night.
The system, called Patient Partner, has been introduced by BEMS+, the local, non-profit organisation, which works with GPs in Bath and North East Somerset to improve patient care through community-based clinical services. They asked patients to tell them what would improve their experience with their GP, and with many patients leading busy lives, they said that they would welcome the opportunity to be able to pick up the phone in the evening to book an appointment. Patients can now avoid queuing on the phone during busy periods.
Patients need to call the surgery’s usual number and the system will find available appointments in the doctors’ and practice diaries. Unlike online booking, there is no need for a password – patients just need to make sure that the surgery has their correct phone number. For those that would prefer to speak to a receptionist, they can bypass the system altogether to get put through.
The programme is part of a two-year pilot, funded through NHS England and Bath and North East Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, to support improving patient access and information management and technology systems at GP practices in the county. Patient Partner (from Voice Connect) has been designed specifically for use in GP practices and is already installed at over 800 surgeries and used by an estimated 8 million patients across the UK.
Amanda Simpson, Project Director at BEMS+ comments: “We hope that by making it easier for patients to make an appointment with their practice, it will also be easier for them to access services. We can also reduce those occasions when patients don’t come for their appointment and don’t cancel their appointment because of difficulties getting through to make the cancellation, which costs practices time, money and resources.”
The new system has been installed at Batheaston Surgery, Elm Hayes Surgery, Fairfield Park Health Centre, Hillcrest Surgery, Number 18 Surgery, St Chads Surgery, St James’ Surgery, St Mary’s Surgery, Somerton House Surgery, St Augustines Surgery, St Michael’s Surgery, West Harptree Surgery, West View Surgery, Weston Surgery and Widcombe Surgery.
Additionally it will go live in the following surgeries over the next few days; Bath University Medical Centre, Chew Medical Practice, Combe Down Surgery, Grosvenor Surgery, Hope House Surgery, Monmouth Surgery, Newbridge Surgery, Oldfield Park Surgery, Temple House Practice and Westfield Surgery.