Why can you limit the number of requests patients can submit through PATCHS?
Ideally PATCHS should be unlimited and turned on 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. But from my own personal experience in my practice and through our research, we understand practices only have a certain number of staff to deal with patient requests, and a certain number of hours in the day to deal with them. This is a particular problem if staff members are off work unexpectedly e.g. for sickness. Having too many requests to deal with can increase staff stress and worsen the problem. That's why we've made it possible to limit the number of requests you receive each day, should you wish, to match the capacity you have, and to turn off PATCHS when you're closed.
Clinical vs non-clinical request limits
It is possible to choose whether to limit clinical or non-clinical requests in PATCHS.
- Clinical requests are New health problems, Ongoing health problems, and Other types of requests
- Non-clinical requests are Medication and Admin types of requests
You may wish to put a higher non-clinical request limit (or not limit at all) so that patients can still request medications when you're closed.
How to set request limits on PATCHS
- Go to the 'Edit practice' page under your name in the top menu (if you work across multiple practices that use PATCHS that may appear as 'My practices' instead).
- Edit the 'Maximum number of requests patients can submit each day' fields.
- When a request limit field is left blank the number of requests (of the particular type) patients can submit each day is unlimited.
- The limit applies from midnight each night, except for Saturday and Sunday which counts as one day, so you can leave the limit on over the weekend if you wish.
What do patients see when the PATCHS limits have been reached?
You can read about this in this help article for patients.
How many requests should I limit PATCHS to?
This is entirely up to you and what you think you can cope with as a practice.
You may leave the rate limit blank in which case there will be no limit to the number of requests patients can submit. In my own experience with this approach, a list size of ~10k, and using PATCHS for Total Triage, we received roughly: 200 requests on Mondays, 150 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and 100 on Thursdays and Fridays.
An alternative approach for clinical requests may be to: 1) count how many clinicians you have working on PATCHS, 2) decide how many PATCHS requests you want each of them to receive, and 3) multiplying those numbers together. For example, if you have three GPs working on PATCHS, and you want them to receive 20 requests each, your clinical request limit would be 3x20 = 60. How many requests you want each clinician to receive is a personal choice, and dependent on the practice and individual clinician.
You can take a similar approach for non-clinical requests by working out how many staff members will be dealing with non-clinical requests. That may be non-clinicians such as receptionists, but it may include clinicians too.
How to I turn PATCHS off when we're closed?
You can do this by setting the relevant field in the the 'Maximum number of requests patients can submit each day' section above to '0' when you close. When you next open, you can then set it back to the number you'd like to receive during that day.