Our Digital Journey
Bay Medical Group currently serve a practice population of approximately 54,000 patients and have a wide variety of clinical staff working alongside the GPs, including Primary Care Pharmacists, Advanced Practitioners, Paramedics, Practice Nurses, Treatment Room Nurses, Assistant Practitioners, Health Care Assistants, Phlebotomists, First Contact Physios, a Mental Health Team Care Co-ordinators and Social Prescribing link workers to deliver care.
The practice operates from five sites and patients can be seen at any of the sites for routine appointments. Each GP has their own main base site, but to maintain the necessary levels of service on each individual site, they often move around to cover holidays, sickness, and provide support to the home visiting service.
Why did you engage with the Digital Exemplar Programme?
Over recent years there has been a significant increase in pressure on Bay Medical Group, with challenges of increased demand and fluctuating capacity. These pressures can be heightened because doctors move between different rooms and sites. At the outset the existing IT set up made this difficult.
To help alleviate these pressures, Bay Medical Group wanted to explore the possibilities for using digital technologies to allow practice staff to work differently. They were looking to allow staff across the group to work more efficiently and increase engagement with their increasingly digitally aware patients.
Implementing Digital Solutions
With support received through the Exemplar Programme the practice has gradually introduced a range of digital solutions to help address issues faced by practice staff and patients. These have included:
- The development of and more efficient use of Social media e.g. a practice Facebook page
- Video consultation with patients and for group clinics.
- Online consultation using the iPlato myGP app
- Development of Patient Online
Initially there was reluctance amongst some practice staff to embrace digital advances. However, through having a very proactive GP IT Lead, the more reluctant staff have quickly embraced the technology available to them.
Most GPs were provided access to laptops through UHMB. This made implementation of the new technologies possible and with support from the Exemplar Programme and through Accurx, BMG ensured the correct protocols and governance were in place. Support from Redmoor Health, including the webinars, meant that BMG could move seamlessly into video consultations with patients and with care homes.
One particular digital issue that BMG struggled with was Digital Dictation, with GPs moving around rooms and working remotely. BMG reviewed possible solutions to this and moved to a cloud based Speech Write 360 designed for secure mobile working, allowing healthcare professionals to dictate anywhere, and create medical notes, correspondence and reports which can be reviewed, edited and signed by clinicians on the go.
To enhance communications with patients, the practice developed a Facebook page allowing them to communicate with more patients via social media and enhance patient awareness of the Practice within the community.
- Visconn Unit
- Team Viewer
- Speech Write
- Microsoft Teams
- Digital Exemplar Programme
- UHMB and IT Service Desk
- NHS England
- Redmoor Health
- Integrated Care System
Impact of Digital Solutions
Covid-19 enforced an overnight change to the way primary care is delivered, forcing practices to embrace digital technologies. Due to their prior involvement in the Exemplar Programme, BMG were equipped to seamlessly manage this process.
Since Covid-19 the practice has shifted away from online appointment bookings. Patients currently phone for an appointment, but these appointments on the whole are delivered via telephone or video consultation.
Because the practice couldn’t use myGP, the clinicians utilised other methods for video consultation including Skype, Accurx and Visconn, showing the flexibility to utilise multiple consultation options.
Using video as a consultation has reduced appointment times, often from 15 to 7 minutes. This has meant that, for example, for some doctors where they had ten appointments a day, they’ve now got 15 or 20. This is a real positive for the patients but needs to be balanced against increased workloads and the impact on work-life balance.
It has also reduced footfall into the practice, freeing up significant admin time to be redirected to other priority work. The practice expects this to continue post Covid. The use of digital consultations has allowed some flexibility for GPs that were shielded or self-isolating to work remotely, thereby maintain their sessions and appointments.
The Accurx system has been invaluable to the practice in enabling this.
Facebook has proved invaluable in engaging and communicating with patients during the Covid pandemic.
Subscribers to the channel have almost doubled from 1,800 to around 3,000+. The people reach on posts are consistently
reaching 3000 + patients and one GP vlog on Covid reached 13,800 patients.
Impact of Digital
“Covid has given us a green light. Where things took months, years, indefinitely, never ever got implemented, things have just been changed overnight which I think is a really good welcome change.”
“Now, a patient at Bay Medical just says yes to a video consult and it’s a winner all round. As a GP I just need a convenient room and as a patient it’s much more convenient for me to have a video consult, or even a telephone than trekking into practice.”
“Our Facebook subscribers and followers have almost doubled since Covid, so, in nearly two months it’s gone up 1,000 plus followers. I could have only dreamt that before.
It was our only way of getting information out at one stage”
“I don’t have IT skills, but as an outsider working on admin, it’s all been really smooth. I’ve been so impressed with how fast alternatives have been put in place and people are using them. I guess that’s down not just to clinicians, but also to the support that’s been given by UHMB, and also Redmoor, it’s really helped.”
“The video consultation and online meetings uptake has been absolutely amazing from my colleagues. From the completely terrified doubters who said they were never using video consult, the majority of staff have embraced their webcams and have been doing marvellous video consults and webinars. Just brilliant”
“I have never thought about using my phone for an appointment to see a doctor. However, it was very straight forward much to my amazement. I received the instructions via text on how to start the video appointment- all very easy and straight forward. I was very nervous about doing this, so was very surprised it worked for me as I am not very tech savvy. I am very pleased that BMG are using these now as it is very convenient for me.”
One size doesn’t fit all
Digital offers so many different options, so just try multiple things that’ll work for you, your practice and your patients. Be adaptive. Get a digital exemplar buddy.
Embrace flexible working
Allow staff to be more flexible and work from home when practical, giving a more positive work/life balance. Covid-19 has demonstrated that homeworking can work.
Consider all options for communicating with patients
Giving patients a choice about how they see a clinician, face-face, video consult, telephone. Utilise Facebook and social media but you’ve got to balance between friendliness and professionalism.
This case study was developed through interview with staff at Bay Medical Group and through documents provide by BMG.
To speak more about the digital journey at Bay Medical Group contact: cath.mclennan@gp-Y01008.nhs.uk
The case study has been written independently by Mike Parker Progress Health Partnerships
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