How to spread demand

Dr Ben Brown
Dr Ben Brown
  • Updated

In an ideal world, you would complete all patient requests on the day they were submitted. But sometimes that isn't possible for example if you have staff off sick or you are very busy.

One approach is to spread demand:

1. Block slots for clinical staff to use Patchs in their appointment calendars in your clinical system (e.g. EMIS, SystmOne). This is recommended in our Key principles of using Patchs article. In our practice we block one appointment per request and book the patient into that slot. We've created a 'Patchs' appointment type with a different colour so it's easy to distinguish. The number of slots you book per clinician session depends on what you think you can cope with as a practice, which you may want to link to your request limiter settings.

2. Routine and Admin / Med requests can then be booked in future appointment slots as necessary, so they don't all need to be dealt with the on the same day. The important thing is to still initially respond to the patient to let them know when they should expect a response from a clinician. This could be a holding message from a receptionist e.g. 'Thank you for your message, as this a routine request a GP will contact you next Wednesday morning. Please expect a message or phone call from a withheld number'. You can read more about how to initially respond to patients on Patchs in this article. This can be done automatically using Booked slots.

3. Urgent requests should be dealt with sooner. See our advice on triage here. If you have Urgency AI switched on, it can help your staff identify Emergency and Urgent requests.

4. Allow patients to submit requests throughout the day. The request limiter allows you to set the maximum number of clinical/non-clinical requests allowed at different times throughout the day; see request limiter settings. Allowing patients to submit requests throughout the day and not just first thing in the morning has the following advantages: 1) stops you becoming overwhelmed at the start of the day 2) makes it easier for patients who are not available at that start of the day to submit a request e.g. parents on the school run 3) Deters patients from submitting health requests as admin or medication requests if they can see that health requests will be available later. 


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