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3 April 2017

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Practice triples online patients in one week – and shares how

A practice in Cumbria more than tripled the number of patients registered for its online services in one week with an ‘all-out’ information drive.

Following an agreement between the British Medical Association (BMA) and NHS England, practices in England aimed to have at least 10% of their patients registered for Patient Online services by the deadline of 31 March.

The Duke Street Surgery at Barrow-in-Furness managed to go from 3.5% of patients engaged with online services to 11% in one week, before eventually reaching a 21% success rate.

The pratice helped sign up its patients to EMIS Health’s Patient Access system, which allows them to book appointments, order repeat prescriptions and access their GP record. 

The practice attributed its success to ‘an all-out campaign’ over 11 weeks with their 9,500 patients.

The practice manager, Laura Hodgkinson said: ‘We came back from the Christmas break and thought there was no way we could get up to 10% by the March deadline. But then we just went for it!’

Information campaign

The practice’s drive involved:

  • texting 3,000 patients, with a 10%+ response rate in the first day
  • training and briefing all staff (including GPs) to ensure they were confident in asking patients to register for online services and answering their questions
  • asking every patient at reception to sign up, and offering them support to do so
  • putting promotional materials up all round the reception area and waiting room
  • signposting the service on the practice website and social media.

Hodgkinson added: ‘I’d advise other practices who may still be trying to meet the target to make sure all your staff are trained on how to use online services, so that they feel confident in helping patients who may be struggling. And set up a computer in a quiet area of the surgery so that you can help patients sign up there and then.’

‘Really proud’

Senior partner, Dr Ian Wear said: ‘We are really proud of the success of our staff in rolling out this service for our patients, it reflects a wider dedication they have in ensuring all aspects of our practice run smoothly.’

Dr Masood Nazir, clinical lead for the NHS England Patient Online programme said: ‘It’s great to see that practices are embracing GP online services and feel the benefits for both patients and staff.

‘NHS England is supporting practices in offering these services by providing necessary guidance, promotional materials and sharing success stories such as Duke Street Surgery with other practices across the country.’