The demand for Accident and Emergency (A&E) services in the UK has risen by 50% in the last decade. It is widely assumed that 25% of patients who turn up do not need A&E care and instead could be treated in other settings.
It is widely assumed that 25% of patients who turn up do not need A&E care and instead could be treated in other settings.Proposed solutions for solving this crisis range from improving out of hours care by finally making the 111 phone service work to charging for A&E visits. Many of these proposals are radical and most are expensive and difficult to implement at the scale required to meet this national challenge.
iPLATO on its end has been quietly addressing the central issues in close partnership with some of the 800 GP practices and over 6 million patients that use its patient communication platform.
Last year, the Hammersmith based team added a new Patient Auto Cancellation feature to the iPLATO service. This free upgrade allows the patient to quickly and without any effort cancel booked GP appointments from a mobile phone thereby freeing up the appointment slot for someone else possibly with an urgent medical concern. The result was stunning – within months most iPLATO practices had switched on Patient Auto Cancellations showing that GPs embrace technology and change if it safe, easy and the benefits are clear to all the stakeholders within the local health economy.
With an average cost per GP appointment estimated at £43, iPLATO practices saved the NHS £7.8 million last year in appointment productivity.In the NHS year 2013/14, iPLATO practices together used the system to free up 181,474 urgent appointments through patients cancelling their appointments via SMS. This productivity gain is equivalent to the entire annual appointment capacity of 12 average sized GP practices. But it is better than building 12 new practices, because the service improves productivity of existing units in a way that does not increase the cost to the NHS.
With an average cost per GP appointment estimated at £43, iPLATO practices saved the NHS £7.8 million last year in appointment productivity. If this best practice service was expanded across England the annual savings would reach £171 million using a proven system and deployment methodology.
[Image from BBC]