A GP practice has slashed its average appointment waiting time by 90% after introducing a new online patient booking system, the practice has said.
Fakenham Medical Practice, in Norfolk, said patients who had to previously wait four weeks for a face-to-face appointment can now expect one on the same day or within 72 hours.
The online system, called Footfall, which patients are encouraged to use, lets them report symptoms or ask their practice questions at any time. The practice then, during working hours, looks at the request and responds within a certain time-frame and connects them with the right person or support.
Its introduction has allowed the practice to deal with a greater number of routine queries without patients needing to visit the surgery, according to the practice. One patient, who gave feedback, said he submitted a form and then received a prescription just 28 minutes later.
The practice claimed there has been an 82% cut in the number of patients who fail to turn up to appointments (DNAs). Telephone lines are said to have also been largely freed up since the arrival of the new system.
Fakenham Medical Practice CEO Sarah Buchan said: ‘We switched from the traditional booking system to the new online programme in October last year and we have been delighted with the impact it has had and the feedback we have received from patients in a short time.
‘Patients are getting the help they need more quickly and conveniently and, for the surgery, it has reduced the pressure on phone lines and helps ensure face-to-face appointments are for those who really need it. The new website also gives patients more access and information at their fingertips.’
Patients using the system are still able to request a face-to-face appointment and doctors are also able to advise them to come into the surgery if they think it is necessary.
Local lead for online consultations in the Norfolk and Waveney area and GP, Dr Ed Turnham said: ‘The new websites and online consultations are proving hugely popular. Almost every comment received from patients or that we have seen on social media has been very positive.’