Most practices are unaware that, on average, 18-25 per cent of their patients ringing the practice in the morning fail to get through.
The Patient Access Centre reduces this to 3.5 per cent by ensuring more people are on the phone at times of peak demand.
Telephone access in traditional general practices is often challenging, and even in practices with advanced telephone systems, a considerable proportion of patients phoning practices first thing in the morning fail to get through.
One of the simple system changes is to remove phones from the front desk in the reception area, so that reception staff are focused on the people in the room and staff answering phones are focused on the caller.
Removing telephone calls from a practice reception has a huge impact on the quality of service provided to the patient at the desk and our receptionists report a much calmer working environment not having to multi-task between call handling and focusing on the person standing with them at the front desk.
Pinnacle decided to centralise the telephone-answering service for its practices and more than 50,000 patients are served by their Patient Access Centre (PAC) based in Hamilton.
This service has significantly reduced call waiting time for patients.
Each PAC practice has dedicated staff who work as part of a virtual extended team. The PAC team manages all phone calls, creates lists for triage call backs, books appointments, and coordinates requests for repeat prescriptions, recalls and reminders. Any patient requiring clinical advice is transferred to the practice team.
The PAC ensures more people are available to take calls at times of peak demand. In addition to freeing up practice administration time PAC has roughly halved the number of phone calls coming into nurses, freeing them up to provide more direct patient care. This lets them be more proactive in monitoring and managing chronic conditions and running education programmes.