Chilwell Valley and Meadows Medical Practice
"Chain SMS is saving us time which we just don't have"
On paper, Chilwell Valley and Meadows Medical Practice is your average UK practice: 15,000 patients of mixed demographic, across two sites in the Nottingham suburbs. They are certainly well-respected by both patients and the CQC; they were rated as outstanding in their last report. However, they face common GP surgery struggles with the mounting pressure of patient demand, and there never are enough hours in the day.
Ed Longridge, Quality Development and Information Systems Manager at the Practice, looked for solutions: how can we buy back time? He found an answer, and within 5 minutes he had downloaded Chain SMS and sent his first text. For free. Chilwell Valley and Meadows Medical Practice is now a Chain SMS practice, and they haven’t looked back.
“When reception staff receive so many new tasks in a day, they struggle to keep on top. With Chain SMS they can get on with the day job.”
Chilwell Valley and Meadows Medical Practice does stand out; they are a progressive practice, willing to innovate and looking for opportunities to do so. Through Chain SMS it was easy for the Practice to bring their patient communication into a new era – one that reduces the number of phone calls and doesn’t involve letters, stamps or staff stuffing envelopes. They have transformed their method of communicating with patients without the need for organisational change, expensive new systems or tiresome training sessions – just a quick download of Chain SMS.
“When a doctor sends a patient a text via Chain SMS, that’s our Gold Standard”
Ed described their previous process for contacting patients about normal blood test results, follow up appointments or ready prescriptions. “For example, a doctor would receive a result where the patient would need to come in for an appointment.” He explained. “The doctor would then send a task to reception, who would then action the task.”
The obvious downsides of this process appear to be the multiple opportunities for error or missed tasks, the doctor not knowing if the task had definitely been completed, and the pile up of tasks for reception staff. Additionally, Ed commented how a simple task can turn into something more major:
“When one of our staff gives a patient a quick call to tell them about, for example, an appointment, what should be a 30-second conversation can turn into a 10-minute one. The questions may be valid, but it is time-consuming.”
Ed reflected that this issue can also be helped by Chain SMS: “When a doctor sends the text message directly, the message is straight from the GP. It is concise and exactly what the patient needs to hear. I think we will get fewer patients calling up for clarification now. We have found our patients are all receptive to the service, whether older or younger.”
“Our senior receptionists say that it makes life so much easier”
So exactly how much time and money is being saved? Ed calculates it as over three hours a day. Between the two sites, the receptionists receive approximately 50 new tasks a day, and an estimated 75% of these can be concluded by sending a text message directly to the patient. This potentially saves the reception team a five-minute phone call each time. That means that over the 8 weeks since the Practice started using Chain SMS, they will have been able to save an estimated 120 hours of staff time.
“Chain SMS is liberating time”
Does it take the GP more time to send the SMS in the first place? Not when compared with creating and sending a task. A text can be sent through Chain SMS in seconds, particularly as it pulls the phone number and relevant consent codes automatically from the notes, and saves the encounter to the medical record.
“I hope I’ve given some constructive feedback as well!”
Ed is not afraid to give us constructive feedback; but this is at the core of what we do at accuRx – developing our services in conjunction with our users. We have made changes based on what Ed has told us about our installation process and new features.
Ed finally touched on the perhaps softer, but important gains using Chain SMS has provided. “There’s a reduction in time engaged in other queries. GPs can just ping off a quick text, and patients hear the information from the horse’s mouth. The alternative would be a phone call, and that may not always be convenient for the patient unlike an SMS, which can be read any time and kept for later. Chain SMS has inevitably reduced stress levels across the practice.”
Keep up the good work Ed and the staff at Chilwell Valley and Meadows Medical Practice! A surgery which is activating change to improve the quality and safety of their patient care.