Automated GP phone booking hailed a success

Whiston Hospital
Whiston Hospital
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The rollout of an automated telephone appointment booking service for GPs’ practices across St Helens has been hailed a success, with almost 70,000 appointments made using the system in 2014.

St Helens and Knowsley Health Informatics (STHK HIS) delivered the Patient Partner automated service as part of their commitment to high quality primary care and improving patient access.

The system went live at the first practice in 2010, and was rolled out to other surgeries across the region in subsequent months.

Patient Partner enables callers to telephone and make, review, cancel or amend an appointment 24/7 and was designed with the aim of easing call congestion, saving time and reducing missed appointments. It is used alongside online booking to help relieve pressure on surgery switchboards. However, unlike online booking, there are no passwords to remember as the system uses the patient’s date of birth and phone number for security purposes.

The system is currently installed at 30 surgeries across the local health economy. The roll out was funded by a combination of CCG and individual practices with project management and technical support from STHK HIS.

Ian Brown, head of client development at STHK HIS said: “There are many significant benefits for practices using Patient Partner. The system eases the pressure on practice staff at key times of the day as well as giving patients more flexibility and control over their healthcare. Because of our unique shared network capability, we were able to keep the operating costs of the system to a minimum for GPs who share our network by hosting the solution centrally, as opposed to the system being hosted at each individual practice.”