The SMASH Care Community, which covers Sandbach, Middlewich, Alsager, Scholars Green and Haslington has gone live with Refero’s primary care messaging platform; a webchat which can be used between patients, clinicians and practices.
Care Communities is a concept of multiple agencies coming together to work towards improving the health and social care service provision for the local population.
In June 2019, the need was identified to ease the volume of work at the front desks at Merepark Medical Centre and Ashfields Primary Care Centre. Both practices decided that they needed to find an alternative way for patients to communicate with them, and a more efficient way of booking and managing appointments was also required.
Refero’s technology creates channels of communication between doctors and patients that we are all familiar with, like video calling and instant messaging, and makes them NHS applicable, safe and easy to use.
The webchat box, visible on both practices’ websites, went live in January this year, and allows patients to contact the practice without emailing or calling.
Dr Neil Paul, clinical director of SMASH, and a GP at Ashfields Primary Care Centre, said: “Many of us would’ve experienced a time when we’ve called our GP surgery for an appointment, usually first thing in the morning, and the line is often engaged. It is time consuming and stressful for both the patient and the practice staff, and can be a very inefficient way of working. I now have the ability to send a message to a patient from my desktop – it’s quick, clean and efficient.
“Most recently, we’ve seen a huge spike in enquiries relating to the COVID-19 outbreak. The good news is that we can boilerplate replies, and the system allows us to hand-off messages to other members of the team, so medicine queries can go to the pharmacy team, and our advanced nurse practitioners also have access to it.”
Using the webchat, patients can make enquiries including booking appointments, checking symptoms, and collecting test results.
When either the patient or person in the practice ends the chat, a transcript is created and sent in an email to everyone involved, from patient and receptionist, to GP and pharmacist.
Dan Worman, CEO of Refero, said: “The SMASH leadership team are an incredibly forward-thinking group, and it’s been a pleasure working in partnership with them to develop our messaging platform. SMASH is setting the standard for using technology to improve patient communications, and we hope more GP practices will follow its lead.”