Patients are being put at risk by GPs being forced to carry out complex consultations in 10 minutes or under, says the British Medical Association (BMA).
By Ian Gallifant, CEO Medelinked- The Open Health Network
August 30, 2016 – Quoting its own report on safe working in general practice published earlier this month, the UK doctors’ trade union says patient care is undermined when GPs are currently forced to see as many as 60 patients a day.
The BMA report warns that GPs face “unsustainable pressure” from increasing workload and staff shortages. And, of course, it has called for more funding and a reorganisation to allow GPs to spend at least 15 minutes with each patient.
Equally predictably, NHS England has countered saying deciding on consultation lengths was up to doctors and there were no national limits suggesting 10 minutes. However, a cursory glance at the NHS Choices website does state that “GPs spend an average of 8-10 minutes with each patient.”
The reality behind 10-minute appointments
The reality is that with the high levels of demand caused by a simultaneously aging and growing populations, with the need to deal with increasing chronic and lifestyle disease and higher expectation of what the NHS should provide, GPs are forced to run 10-minute appointments. That is, of course, after patients have waited ever longer, now over a week in most practices, to get to see the GP in the first place.
Even as a frustrated patient, it’s hard not to feel some sympathy with the pressures endured by those at the sharp end of primary care and be alarmed when many are considering quitting because of the dangers involved in patient overload. But that sympathy soon disappears if those that soon involved don’t embrace the need to change to make things better not just for the doctor but the patient too.
Although the report calls for ` a reorganisation` resisting real change in working practices is something at which the BMA has a track record of being particularly effective.
Patients need to be held to account to manage their own health
Throwing more money at the problem or reorganising without fundamentally changing the way patients are served is not the answer. Patients need to be held to account to manage their own health and health records, more effective use of other GP practice services need to be enforced as too many patients take up GP’s precious time unnecessarily. But, most of all, the NHS has to embrace wholesale the technologies including the smartphone, tablet and PC that we all use to run the rest of our lives.
For instance, free to doctors, medical professionals and patients, the Medelinked Personal Health Record (PHR) platform enables them to create health accounts for their patients and clients and safely upload personal health records directly through the Portal to an individual patient or client’s online Medelinked PHR account.
It also enables healthcare professionals to engage securely with their patients and clients by via email, voice, text, video and instant messaging. This gives them real time interaction for faster and more effective consultations, recommendations and review as well as preventing unnecessary appointments that could be dealt with remotely.
Uploading a record is a quick, easy and secure. Examples of the type of PHR information that can be sent and received from a Medelinked account include medical reports, consultation notes, blood results, x-rays, DICOM scans etc.
Planning ahead to make sure you cover everything you want to discuss
Prior to visiting their GP NHS Choices advises patients to “plan ahead to make sure you cover everything you want to discuss”. Medelinked can ensure this happens.
The simple, clear Medelinked Snapshot PHR view appears as a full-screen dashboard in the doctor or healthcare professional’s Medelinked portal which both doctors and patients can view before the patient’s appointment. Enabling the doctor and patient to be partners in healthcare, we think it could give GPs as much as two minutes’ extra time per 8-10 minute consultation.
This is because Medelinked Snapshot supplies an easy and quick to read and interpret single common graphical view of crucial supporting PHR health state information numbers such as: blood glucose and cholesterol levels; calorie intake; weight; waist size; exercise levels and blood pressure as well as featuring contacts details and space for the patient to describe their current symptoms and wellness.
Allow GPs and their staff fall back in love with their vocation
UK Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, said recently at the NHS Innovation Expo that it is his ambition was to get just 15 per cent of NHS patients routinely and safely reading and adding to their online medical records using smartphones apps in the next 12 months.
Medelinked can make this happen faster and Snapshot will make those records truly useful to patient and practitioner alike. It can be part of the change that needs to happen if the NHS is to survive and thrive into the future, giving those that pay for it both real value for money and the care they deserve.
And, perhaps, allow some seriously concerned GPs and their staff fall back in love with their vocation.