Primary Care News

Long-term conditions tool reduces GPs’ workload and speeds up care

A West Midlands GP is reducing workload and speeding up vital care for patients with long-term conditions (LTCs) using a new tool he developed using EMIS Health technology.

Dr Nicholas Boeckx, of Halesowen Medical Practice in Dudley, has developed protocols and templates that enable trained healthcare assistants (HCAs) to carry out annual LTC reviews using the EMIS Web clinical system.

Thanks to the new tool, around 54% of patients with LTCs do not have to see a GP. For every 1000 patients with a LTC this has freed up 62 hours of GP time and saved £9,013.  As a result, GPs and nurses are able to offer longer appointments for patients with complex needs. It is proving popular with staff and patients alike.

Dr Boeckx has calculated that the savings for other GP practices could range from £1,602 – 9,013 per 1000 patients per year with a LTC, depending on the care model they use.*

Now HCAs at the practice can identify patients whose health is a cause for concern and those who are doing well. A telephone review with a nurse, pharmacist or GP is arranged for those who may need changes to their treatment. Previously, all patients saw a nurse or GP for review regardless of their need. The tool identifies patients who are well controlled by searching the patient’s record and comparing old and new data, enabling bespoke decision-support (in line with national guidance) at the point of care.

HCA Emily Barker said: “I see the majority of LTC patients in the practice – that’s around 11 patients a day – for their annual review. The template is really straightforward, offering me step-by-step prompts through all aspects of the patient’s care. I carry out all the standard tests for each condition. The computer tells me if a patient is not well-controlled, and I book a convenient telephone appointment.”

Mike Bowring is 75, has heart disease and walks with sticks due to a back injury. He said: “I’m a fan. It is a big improvement on the previous system where I saw the GP. More often than not, nothing had changed from the previous year, so I was using up expensive time, and struggling to get to the surgery. Now I don’t have to.”

He added: “As a member of the practice’s patient panel, I support anything that saves time and money. This is a wonderful idea, and part of the answer to the NHS’s problem of too few resources.”

Dr Boeckx said: “Not only does the tool free up clinicians for other work, it makes follow-up appointments with these patients more succinct by highlighting areas of poor control and providing targeted guidance.”

“EMIS Web is simple and intuitive to use, and the development tools for templates, protocols and concepts have a straightforward programming interface, making them easy to customise. By developing and distributing this tool in partnership with EMIS Health, I hope we can reduce workload, increase capacity and support clinical decision making in other practices.”

*Savings per thousand LTC patients depend on the current LTC practice model. Cost and time savings calculated using recorded appointment length at the pilot practice.