Enabling the Patchs Telephone Assistant

Gwynneth Derere
Gwynneth Derere
  • Updated


Patchs Telephone Assistant is a revolutionary way for patients to access primary care whilst minimising workload and maintaining control of demand for GP practices.

Patients speak to the Telephone Assistant, which takes the details of their request. The message is automatically transcribed and is sent to the Patchs inbox for you to review, just like a standard Patchs online consultation.

This article describes how to enable the Patchs Telephone Assistant for practices which have purchased (or are piloting) the module.

Enabling the Telephone Assistant

  • Go to your 'Edit Practice' page
  • Go to the ‘Feature Settings’ tab
  • Scroll down to the bottom of the page where you will see a checkbox for the Telephone Assistant
  • Tick the box to enable the Telephone Assistant

If you cannot see this option, then your practice has not been enabled for this feature. Please contact us or your Advanced account manager if you need it enabled.

Doing a Test Run

  • Set the request limits for the Telephone Assistant to be greater than zero so it can start accepting requests. (This is in the normal demand management tab)
  • Choose a dummy patient that is registered in Spine (PDS) or a friendly patient that can test it for you. The patient must be registered in PDS or they will not be matched and unable to submit a request.
  • You can then call the Telephone Assistant on the number we have provided (+44XXXXXXXXXX) to submit a test request. 
  • Check that the request shows up in your practice inbox.
  • Now enable the call diversion on your telephony system - you may want to do this out of hours or put the diversion option in a non-obvious place so patients don't come through -  and repeat the dummy patient test process by calling your standard practice telephone number. Here we are checking for 2 things:
      • that the call diversion is set up properly.
      • the telephone number used to call is being sent through correctly by your telephony provider to the Telephone Assistant. If the telephone number is different from the number you called on, this will be due to the call diversion settings on your telephony service. Please adjust the settings or contact your telephony provider for help.
  • Finally, disable the call diversion on your telephony system and reset the Telephone Assistant request limits to 0 to ensure no requests are submitted prior to going live.
  • You are now ready to go live.

Monthly Usage Guidance

Patchs Admin users at practices with the Telephone Assistant enabled can set a monthly usage guidance. Once this amount of minutes has been reached patients will be told there are no more slots available and will be blocked from submitting a request.

You will still be charged for the duration of the short message telling patients that there are no more slots available, so your monthly usage may be slightly higher than the guidance amount.

This can be done via the Feature Settings page. To get here, navigate to the Edit Practice page from your drop-down menu in the top right-hand corner of the page.

Then click on the Feature Settings tab.

Now scroll down until you see the Patchs Telephone Assistant settings section.


Enter the number of minutes of Telephone Assistant activity you wish to permit each month.

The associated cost will be calculated in pounds and pence, and displayed to the right of the input field.

Leave the field blank for no spending limit.

When/if the specified limit is reached, the Telephone Assistant will be disabled. You can override the disabling either by updating the limit to a higher value or by leaving the field blank (no limit).

Choosing whether to allow medication requests

Under the Patchs Telephone Assistant settings section of your Feature Settings page, you will also see a setting called Allow medication requests

When Allow medication requests is enabled, patients calling the Telephone Assistant at your practice will be given the option to make a medication request. If Allow medication requests is not enabled, they will not hear this option.

Check the box to enable the feature, or leave it unchecked to keep it disabled.

Choosing whether to allow requests from unmatched patients

The final optional setting under the Patchs Telephone Assistant settings section is a setting called Allow requests from unknown patients.

When Allow requests from unknown patients is enabled, patients who the Telephone Assistant is unable to match against your list of registered patients (using their name and date of birth) will still be able to complete a request as a non-digital patient.

When you receive an unknown patient request, you will then need either to manually match them with an existing patient, or call the patient directly in order to register them yourself.

If you opt not to Allow requests from unknown patients, patients who the Telephone Assistant is unable to match will not be able to complete their request. They will hear the following message, after which the call will be terminated.

Message: "I'm sorry I cannot identify you in my records. Please call the practice to speak to a receptionist who will be able to help."

Going Live

  • Set the preferred request limits in the demand management tab
  • Enable the call diversion on your telephone system.
  • You are now live!

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