More than 550,000 patients in Devon are now able to benefit from 24-hour online access to their GP practice.
The service, jointly provided by Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group and South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group, allows patients to seek experts’ assistance for minor conditions.
E-consult asks patients to fill in a form with their symptoms, which is later reviewed by a GP or duty team that decides who is the most appropriate clinician that will deal with the query.
The CCGs now hope every patient in Devon will have access to eConsult through their GP practice’s website by the end of this year.
‘Hugely beneficial for patients and practices’
Devon’s CCGs chief clinical information officer Dr John McCormick said: ‘We have piloted this system in several practices and it has proved hugely beneficial for patients and practices.’
Along with being beneficial for the patients, the service was piloted for its potential in saving GP time.
In fact, according to the two CCGs, there were more than 1,500 online consultations across the county in June alone.
NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon CCG said that ‘these would otherwise have been face-to-face consultations, so GPs’ time was freed up to see more patients with more urgent needs’.
‘Innovation to see around the country’
Referring to the results achieved in Devon, NHS England’s regional director for Patients and Information Cathy Francis said: ‘It’s exactly the sort of innovation that we need to see around the country, so patients can get quick and easy access to their doctor from home and hard-pressed GPs can make best use of their time.’
As part of the General Practice Forward View, NHS England has invested £45m to help practices purchase online consultation systems.