St Martins Practice is based in Chapeltown Leeds. The practice provides services to 6,931 patients. They employ 27 staff in total of which 12 are non-clinical.
The Redcentric telephony service was deployed at the practice and 37 users now have access of which 14 are call handlers. The practice shares 3 softphone licences for people working from home, two of which are used by clinical staff and a further one is used within the reception team for patient support.
During the pandemic, a group of practices within the Primary Care Network (PCN) needed to work together to provide a vaccination hub for patients as fast as possible. They planned to provide a dedicated call line for patients to call and book a vaccination. An office at the St Martins Practice was provided as a location for a small, dedicated team of call handlers to make appointments.
The Redcentric telephony service had already been deployed at the St Martins site, but not all features had been adopted by the practice. Staff had been issued with individual logins which allowed them to login and pick up a call on any desk phone. This meant the hub team which was made up of staff from across 3 sites could login to the telephony system on any phone.
A pre-recorded message advised patients to select option 9 which funnelled all vaccination calls to the hub team. A hunt group was set up so that calls could be answered in rotation by any member of the team as they became available.
Camilla Hawkes, Practice Manager explained,
“We planned to use the telephony system to book appointments with as few staff as possible manning the service. After an hour on the phone with the IT admin we had everything set up. We were able to answer calls from patients across the 3 practices. The service was invaluable.”
She added, “The hub team of 5 consisted of temporary agency staff and new staff already within reception teams from across the 3 GP practices. The team could access patient records centrally and staff could login to the dedicated call group across 5 handsets to pick up calls. As we couldn’t staff the hub full time, patients could also leave a message.”
“The Redcentric telephony system meant we were much quicker in getting our vaccination hub up and running. The alternative was to have 3 separate teams in place, one for each practice, which would have required more resource. With the hub team in place, staff were relieved that there was now a clear demarcation of responsibilities”.
For quality assurance, it’s much easier to check a call recording and listen to a call. It’s been invaluable.
Individual staff logins – As the practice is housed in a building with multiple floors, individual logins have meant the practice can change how they use the facilities.
Call recording – Call recording is used for staff training – both non-clinical and clinical staff. GPs are able to listen back to calls made by trainees.
“Staff like the call recording. If a patient is rude or challenging, they can provide evidence on how the call has been handled. It’s reassuring and allows us to handle complaints effectively. “
Softphone licences – Despite early adoption in 2018, prior to the pandemic the softphone licences had not been used much, but they have proven to be invaluable throughout the pandemic.
“We suddenly realised the potential of the softphone licences. If a member of staff had Covid, and was well enough to work, they could work from home. Covid pushed us forward to exploit the telephony functionality we already had.”
Telephone triage – The call routing is not used at St Martins due to the challenge of resourcing multiple lines with a smaller number of call handlers. Most clinical appointments are also done face to face, but the telephony service is used to handle calls for the Urgent Same Day service, which can be triaged on the phone.
Wallboards – The dashboard in surgery is used to indicate how long patients are waiting for their call to be answered, allowing staff to login to respond to calls when demand is high.
Service innovation – enabled set up of the vaccination hub for the PCN
Greater flexibility – individual logins enabled flexible use of office buildings and access across sites
Remote working – softphone licences enabled working from home
Call routing – routed calls efficiently to the vaccination hub, providing focus for the dedicated team who were able to take on new responsibilities quickly
Patient access – call messaging and routing to the hub group
Governance – the ability to listen to call recordings
Training – call recording to enable better staff training
Call analytics – the ability to visualise number of calls waiting and wait times
The Redcentric telephony enabled St Martin Practice to quickly set up a dedicated line to handle Covid vaccinations and to manage it efficiently. Call handlers could focus on a single task, while other staff could handle the normal workload and continue to deliver their usual services.
Benefits of the telephony include greater flexibility. Softphones were invaluable throughout Covid and are still used to allow staff to work flexibly, enabling remote-working when staff need to work from home. Individual logins to the telephony allow staff to use the practice buildings flexibly. Office wallboards allow staff to respond to spikes in calls, and login to the system wherever they are.