“We save 60 phone calls and 5 hours of admin time a week”
Staunton Surgery is a 7700-patient GP surgery just a stone’s throw from the beautiful Chichester Harbour on the south coast. It must be tempting to sit back and enjoy the view, however in this peaceful corner of Britain, Staunton Surgery are quietly helping to drive forward technology and innovation in healthcare.
Julia Warner, IT Data Quality Information Manager at Staunton Surgery, recently attended an Wessex LMC IT conference where she overheard Chain SMS being recommended. She made a quick note of the name and next day checked out our website. Within 5 minutes she had downloaded Chain SMS and could see for herself how the service could help the practice.
“Chain SMS was so easy to install, so easy to use! We are absolutely loving it – it’s fantastic”
She tells us “the first thing I noticed was how easy it was to install Chain SMS. The desktop icon is non-obtrusive, so doesn’t hinder the consultation page or any other clinical view within EMIS Web. I also noted how Chain SMS checks for ‘consent’, and clearly shows that the patient has not opted out of SMS text messages.”
Now a mix of GPs, nurses and administrative staff at Staunton Surgery are using Chain SMS and are feeling the benefits. Julia talked me through a few examples of which tasks were easier thanks to Chain. Firstly, the communication burden around missed telephone appointments has decreased. Staff now simply text the patient that if they still need to speak to a doctor, they should call back. And it isn’t just the clinicians benefiting from Chain SMS: Staunton Surgery, as any practice, occasionally has to cancel a clinic. Again, they send a prompt and efficient message to all affected patients, cutting down staff time spent calling individual patients.
Julia remarked on the simplicity and joy of using Chain SMS and how clinicians can have more confidence in their communication: “everyone is enjoying using it and finding the software so easy. Chain SMS helps better record keeping; it documents exactly what was said and who it was sent to, no mistakes.”
“We’re coming up with all sorts of ideas on how to use Chain SMS”
Innovation doesn’t stop on downloading and using Chain SMS. At accuRx HQ this is music to our ears: we are led by our users, and by learning how and why Chain SMS is being used, we can develop new features to make it even more helpful. We introduced our custom templates (where the practice can write and save their own messages to be used again and again) based on user feedback.
So what is the number one benefit Staunton Surgery gains from using Chain SMS? According to Julia, the number one benefit of Chain SMS comes from the saving in paper, postage and admin time taken to send letters. How does this breakdown? Julia says that the practice saves 40 letters, £22.40 in postage and 60 phone calls per week. At 5 minutes per phone call, she says this frees up an estimated 5 hours of admin staff time per week. That means that per year this 7700-patient practice is saving over £1100 a year, over 2000 letters, more than 3000 phone calls and 260 hours a year. That’s over 32 full staff days!
And the beautiful part of this is that not all of the Staunton Surgery staff are set up with Chain SMS yet, so there are further benefits and cost savings to be made too.
“Every person from nurses to GPs to the admin team clear tasks so much quicker through Chain SMS. It is just so usable.”
This highlighted how practices of all sizes can win back so much time at the click of a button. Staunton Surgery took their opportunity to be a leader in primary care and save time and money; it took no time at all to instigate a significant switch to efficient communication.
It left me thinking...for all of the GP practices out there: what would you do with 32 days of free time?