A telecoms company specialising in phone systems for GPs’ surgeries has reported a dramatic increase in sales following the introduction of a new NHS initiative.
The Operating Framework for the NHS, which was launched in December 2007, focuses on improving patient access and overall patient experience. It is this initiative that Midlands based company Voice Connect believes to be largely responsible for the 300% increase in quarterly sales figures of their Patient Partner product.
Patient Partner is an automated appointment booking service for GPs’ surgeries that enables patients to make, rearrange or cancel their appointments around the clock, seven days a week. The system is fully automated: it works by detecting spaces in the doctors’ diaries and allows the patient to choose the appointment time which best suits them just by pressing a button on their touch tone phone.
“From the patients’ point of view, calling to book appointments at peak times leads to engaged phone lines and frustration, “ comments Voice Connect’s Managing Director Stefan Olsberg. “From the GPs’ perspective, poor communication can result in a high number of DNAs (missed appointments) which is time consuming and costly for the practice. Patient Partner helps to resolve this issue for both parties as is proven by the dramatic increase in sales – all the more notable for occurring in a time of alleged economic slowdown.”
One of the 240 UK practices now using the system successfully is Dapdune House Surgery in Guildford. Practice Manager Duncan Mann reports that the system has made a real difference to patient access since its installation in February 2007. “We decided to implement Patient Partner because we wanted to improve access for our patients and make it easier for them to get in touch with us. There’s no question that it has helped us to reduce call congestion at peak times and has eased the burden on our receptionists – whilst our patients now find it easier to contact the surgery.”
Olsberg is delighted that Patient Partner is proving such a successful part of the government strategy to improve patient experience. “Good communication is such an important part of the framework, as well as other NHS initiatives such as 18 week referral to treatment times,” he comments. “Patient Partner is the only system of its kind on the market and our rapidly increasing number of sites proves that it is fulfilling a real need in general practice.”