Integrated communications specialists help GP practice win award

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A phone system designed by an integrated communications company has resulted in an award for the use of technology to improve patient access at a Middlesex GPs’ surgery. The Hampton Hill Medical Centre was recently announced as the Vision Practice of the Year in recognition of the innovations that the practice has put in place during the past two years. This includes an automated phone and online appointment booking system, as well as an SMS messaging service for patients.

As part of a drive to enhance services for patients, the practice installed an automated booking service known as Patient Partner, developed by integrated communications specialist Voice Connect. The Leicester based company also supplies a range of telecoms products and services to surgeries, sexual health clinics, police forces and private companies across the UK. Patient Partner is one of their most popular products and is in use at over 400 surgeries nationwide.

The system enables patients to call and book or cancel appointments at anytime, except for a short window of time between 2am and 4am when the service is updated. “Poor communication is a common problem at many practices across the country and is essential to both the smooth running of the surgery and patient satisfaction,” explains Kerry Morley, Practice Manager at Hampton Hill. “Patient Partner has eased call congestion and offers our patients increased flexibility in making appointments which they appreciate. In conjunction with our other innovations, the system has greatly enhanced the service that we offer our patients.”

The practice has also introduced a service known as Vision Online which enables patients to book appointments and manage their healthcare online. In addition, patients are reminded about appointments and are invited to health check and surgery events via SMS text messaging.

Missed appointments cost the NHS an estimated £600 million each year, with around 6.5 million appointments missed from 2007 to 2008. “Patient Partner was originally developed to help with the issue of missed appointments and poor communication in the primary care sector,” explains Voice Connect’s Managing Director Stefan Olsberg. “So it is pleasing to hear that this, and other advances in technology, can make such a useful contribution to GPs’ surgeries.”