In early 2021, the Skin Integrity team at Doncaster & Bassetlaw Teaching Hospital (DBTH) had no clear, quick way of communicating about their patients’ discharge plans. But last September, they began working with our team to pilot Message GP Practice to streamline and speed up the process of sharing wound care plans with their patients’ GPs.
What is Message GP Practice?
Message GP Practice is a key part of Accurx’s communication platform. It allows any NHS professional to send messages about a patient directly to their GP practice and share information easily and quickly across care settings.
With Message GP Practice, healthcare staff can save correspondence and send attachments, while all information and communications can be saved to the patient’s GP record in one click. Message GP Practice is also known as ‘Accumail’, and refers to a specific part of this software.
How the pilot started
Before the pilot, the team at DBTH largely relied on patients to pass wound care plans written on paper on to their GP themselves, or involved staff calling the patient’s GP practice to get an email address they could then send the plan to.
As well as being a time-consuming process, both methods left huge levels of uncertainty as to whether GPs would ultimately receive the information they needed. Without a clear line of communication, many patients were calling GP practices and relating their needs from pieces of paper while staff weren’t equipped with the clinical information they needed.
What were the goals of the pilot?
- To improve patient care and ensure that patients were referred to the right place in a timely manner. This aimed to enhance the experience of patients by removing the need for them to share care plans themselves, and lead to greater clarity and confidence in their care.
- To help everyone providing wound care to do so safely and effectively with all the necessary information. Ensuring GPs can seamlessly receive and work from up-to-date discharge plans aimed to have a positive impact on patient outcomes.
- To improve communication between the Skin Integrity Team and GPs in Doncaster and Bassetlaw, once a patient is discharged from hospital. This would hopefully create a more efficient way of connecting with primary care to enable better collaboration with GPs, and reduce time and unnecessary work for staff.
How did the pilot work?
Before the pilot began, multiple meetings took place between our team and Skin Integrity team to pool technical and clinical expertise as well as the real life experiences of staff. This was vital to shaping how Message GP Practice worked and enabled any queries to be ironed out before launch.
During the pilot, there were fortnightly feedback meetings between Accurx’s team and the Skin Integrity team at DBTH, as well as monthly check ins. This meant Accurx could quickly improve the pathway and tailor it to the needs of patients and staff at DBTH.
How has the Message GP pilot helped?
In the year since the pilot started, the Skin Integrity team at DBTH have identified five key benefits to their services:
- GP practice nurses in Doncaster say they are able to run their appointments more efficiently and prepare in advance, since they now have information ahead of the appointment.
- The pilot has helped provide safe, effective care to patients by enabling referrals to be traced. This has ensured that all patients needing treatment receive the care they need.
- Message GP Practice has enabled significant time savings each week, allowing the team to provide key information to a patient's GP surgery quickly and efficiently. This has improved confidence that patient information is getting to the right person at the right time.
- GP practice nurses say they have been able to give their patients more timely outcomes because the GP practice has earlier access to their clinical information than they did before. The pilot has therefore enabled staff to triage patients to specialist teams and book them into onward appointments quicker.
- Previously, patients used to be handed the wound care plan and they would have to call the GP practice to say they needed an appointment. Now, the plan goes straight to the GP and the patient gets timely care without having the stressful experience of arranging appointments and following up on their treatment.
What the Skin Integrity team say…
“Accurx’s simple technology has improved the communication that we have about our patients with their GP practices. Using Message GP practice has meant that we are now much more confident that the patient’s aftercare instructions are getting to the right place at the right time.
“In one instance, a GP practice that received the information via Accurx upon the patient’s discharge from DBTH was able to triage the patient immediately to a specialist team. Without the practice having received this information, the patient would have waited at least a week for an appointment with the practice nurse and then another week to get referred to the specialist team.” - Kelly Moore, Lead Nurse of the Skin Integrity Team at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospital
A final word from Accurx’s Head of Clinical…
“Delivering truly integrated care requires healthcare professionals to work as one team around a patient. Across the healthcare system, this is made difficult by outdated routes of communication - be that sending a letter or waiting on hold to speak to the reception team at a GP practice. Simple and easy-to-use solutions can enable better communication between services, and better access to patient information, enabling healthcare staff to work more easily as a team and deliver better patient care.
“We built Message GP practice, a function of our two-way messaging product AccuMail, to help NHS staff across different services do just that. We’re excited to continue working with DBTH and seeing the benefits it brings to patients and their healthcare teams in Doncaster and Bassetlaw.” - Dr Satya Raghuvanshi, Head of Clinical at Accurx