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Header image for the current page Improving the patient check-in experience during GP visits

Improving the patient check-in experience during GP visits

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As part of the COVID-19 response measures, patient self-check-in screens in Lincolnshire GP practices were switched off or removed to support infection control. But reimplementing this system, two years later, was proving challenging due to old, out of date and network incompatible equipment.

Arden & GEM’s IT service put together a dedicated project team and funding proposal to work with Lincolnshire Integrated Care Board (ICB), and the 113 practices affected, to purchase and install an appropriate solution. The 11-month project was delivered within budget and to a high standard to improve the efficiency and experience of the check-in process, with positive feedback received from both patients and practice staff.

The challenge

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Lincolnshire patients visiting one of the county’s 113 GP practices would have been able to check-in for their appointment using a Patient Arrival Touch Screen (PATS). This system was the result of an ongoing period of installation by Arden & GEM’s IT service and Lincolnshire ICB.

As part of the COVID-19 response measures, most PATS were switched off or completely removed from surgeries to support infection control and reduce cross-contamination. In 2022, when the ICB wanted to reinstall this process, it was identified that most PATS:

There were also concerns that patients would prefer to keep booking in via reception staff and that new equipment might present an out of hours break-in risk.

Our approach

Arden & GEM’s IT Project and Programme Management and Delivery (PPMD) team presented a funding proposal to the ICB for the purchase and installation of 116 new devices, to cover all local GP practices. Potential devices were identified and assessed by the product team, with an all-in-one model selected as offering greater cost savings, faster resolution for any faults and proven deployment in other parts of the county.

Understanding requirements
An IT Facilitator from within the PPMD team was appointed to lead the project with assistance from a Project Manager and Project Support Officer.

The project team worked in collaboration with a Practice Manager from each site to fully understand:

This process ensured the correct bespoke solution was implemented for each surgery.

Successful implementation
The project team oversaw implementation, ensuring that this was carried out with minimal disruption to the service or staff.

This included working with third party suppliers, where necessary, to complete cabling and bracket installations promptly and to a high standard. The team also liaised with IT colleagues in the End Device Management team to ensure that the screen software would be updated and maintained as compliant with the GP Practice’s Patient Administration System.

Stakeholder engagement
Regular project update meetings were facilitated and relevant project documentation was completed to ensure project stakeholders were informed of progress, open communication was maintained, and that any issues could be escalated to the Project Board for discussion and, where required, a decision on how to proceed.

The key challenge was ensuring that Practice Managers remained engaged and understood the aim and benefits of the project. To achieve this, each Practice Manager received an initial communication explaining the offer being made, the reasons for this, the potential for cost savings and the proposed project timescales. Following initial expressions of interest, site completion times were kept to a minimum and prompt updates, often face-to-face, were delivered to maintain focus and interest from all stakeholders.

"Both staff and patients are really happy with the Patient Arrival Touch Screen and the benefits since being installed have been fantastic. They have helped relieve some of the pressure from our busy reception team and also ensure that patients are not being kept too long."

Bethanie Chappell, Management Team Personal Assistant/ IT Support at Beacon Practice in Skegness

The outcomes

As a result of the collaborative working relationships formed and bespoke IT facilitator assessments, the project was delivered within budget and to a high standard with positive feedback received from both patients and practice staff.

Out of the 113 practices:

Any remaining all-in-one screens are in storage for future use within the ICB estate, along with any surplus brackets.

Project benefits for practices have included improved patient flow and reduced interruptions to reception staff, allowing them to undertake other essential tasks. There have also been financial benefits from the reduction in third party contract and licensing costs. While patients have a quicker, simpler check-in experience.

Arden & GEM’s service delivery teams have received information and training so that they can support practices with any PATS issues going forward and help to build this knowledge within practice teams.

"The installation of the touch screen was slick and uneventful! The IT Technician worked together with the surgery staff, and it was up and running in next to no time. The daily routine for all patients has changed dramatically. It alleviated the need for patients to wait and speak to a receptionist/care navigator to book in for their appointment immediately. It is very easy to use and our patients love it. Staff are knowledgeable in how to rectify small issues, i.e., power cuts and turning it all back on!"

Juliet Brewer, Practice Manager at The Bassingham Surgery in Lincoln