To ensure both your practice and your patients see the benefits of using PATCHS, our research shows there are some key principles that should be followed.
- Always keep an eye on your PATCHS inbox. So you can see any new requests that come through to the practice or are assigned to you. This includes the Unassigned Inbox. We recommend always having at least one receptionist monitoring the Unassigned Inbox.
- Triage and initially respond to patients ASAP (this does not mean you have to completely resolve the request though!). PATCHS requests are like phone calls - they're just a different way for patients to contact you. When a patient calls your practice using the phone, you try to answer and triage it as soon as possible - to improve patient safety and patient experience. This should be the same with PATCHS requests. This does not mean you have to resolve their whole request straight away, just that the request should be triaged and initially responded to, just so the patient knows you've got their request and you're dealing with it. If you don't do this, the patient may ring the practice or submit another request to chase up what's happening. For example, this could be a holding message from a receptionist e.g. 'Thank you for contacting us, a GP will respond this afternoon'. See this article for more information.
- Receptionists should only make triage decisions on non-clinical requests. Any requests that require input from a clinician should be assigned to a clinician to deal with in PATCHS.
- Assign requests that need clinical input to a clinician. Don't book the patient a telephone or face-to-face appointment unless a clinician has made a triage decision in PATCHS saying they actually need one. This is important to better manage your resources, get patients a quicker response, and to teach PATCHS AI how to triage patient requests properly.
- Record triage decisions early and update them as necessary as you go. This is important to make sure you get accurate information on your activity reports and helps teach PATCHS AI how to triage patient requests.
- Block slots for clinical staff to use PATCHS in their appointment calendars. We find you get the most benefit from PATCHS if you remove as many pre-booked appointments as possible and work from your PATCHS inbox instead.
- Limit the number of requests you receive if necessary. In an ideal world, PATCHS would be unlimited and turned on 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. But 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. However, if you use this feature make sure you don't direct patients to use PATCHS when it's reached capacity or turned off!
- Spread demand if necessary. In an ideal world, you would deal with all patient requests on the same day they are submitted. But sometimes that isn't possible. Instead you can spread demand over the coming week or so. But make sure you tell the patient when to expect contact from a clinician before you do (see point 2 above)! Read more about how to do this here.
- If you ring the patient, make sure you read their request before you do. This may sound obvious, but if you ask the patient to re-tell their history you will 1) waste the time they spent writing their initial request, 2) miss an opportunity to save yourself time because reading a request is quicker than hearing a patient say it, and 3) make the patient think 'what's the point in using PATCHS if the GP practice won't read what I write anyway?'.