In a recent statement on 8th May, 2023, the Health Secretary Steve Barclay announced a £240m government fund to support its GP recovery plan and help make it easier for patients to contact their GP and end the 8am rush to book doctor’s appointments. With patients overwhelmingly using the telephone to book appointments, new telephony systems will help streamline access and ensure calls are channelled efficiently to the right place.
The challenge is that not enough GP practices have switched from their analogue phone systems and they have yet to replace them with modern cloud-based systems, so that patients never get engaged tones and instead get channelled efficiently to the right service.
Cloud-based telephony offers a whole myriad of benefits that are not easily achievable using analogue phone systems. But more importantly, there is a much more pressing issue, which is that many GP practices have yet to prepare for the switch off of analogue and ISDN lines in 2025.
By the end of December 2025, the ISDN/PSTN switch off will mean that broadband services running over analogue lines will no longer be available. The Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), which is the telephone system everyone has used since its inception in 1946, will no longer exist and legacy telephone systems using analogue telephone lines will cease to operate.
There are great new cloud-based solutions ready and available, which can digitally transform patient access to primary healthcare through IP telephony, where digital signals travel through IP networks, such as the internet. These Voice over IP (VoIP) telephony systems offer a host of associated enterprise level features such as call waiting, call queuing, routing, automated messaging and many more features which offer limitless opportunities to create efficient workflows and call handling efficiencies.
In an interview with Steven Holt, Patient Support Manager at City View Medical Practice the benefits of a new cloud-based telephony system were discussed and he described how he was easily able to demonstrate quantifiable improvements in call efficiencies, which were measured through telephony analytics. Recorded metrics which included, for example, the number of calls abandoned, number of calls queued, and call wait times, all showed marked improvements in the ability of staff to respond to inbound calls, resulting in better patient experience and quicker access to services.
Steven Holt commented, ‘Our call stats have improved beyond recognition over the last 12 months. The beauty of the Redcentric system is that we can carry on refining call flows. Call demand can change on a weekly basis, but the call stats help us to understand what’s going on and to see which call lines are busy, so that we can respond to changing patterns and resource lines effectively.’
In the case of City View Medical Practice, changes to call workflows have resulted in reduced complaints, and call waiting times are markedly lower than across surgeries of a similar size across the Leeds area. Calls are now routed efficiently to different areas of the practice, reducing demand on receptionist time, helping them to focus on calls requiring triage to the right clinician or service. Patients are now able to make requests online and key in details to the relevant area of the practice.
The benefits in terms of staff utilisation, smarter working and call handling efficiencies are undeniable and this has led to faster response times for patients. In the current climate of stretched NHS resources, efficient channelling of patients to the right healthcare services is more important than ever.
To find out more about how Redcentric can help you to access new VoIP telephony services contact us today.