News, Primary Care News

Cheshire and Merseyside ICB highlights potential of tech in empowering patients in Access Improvement Plan

NHS Cheshire and Merseyside ICB’s Access Improvement Plan has highlighted the role of digital and technology in improving access to healthcare, with “expected improvements” for patients including “less hurdles” and “clear information” when accessing services, set times for online consultations, a choice of appointment methods, and a better understanding of the apps and technologies in place for those choosing to use it.

According to the plan, the ambition for Cheshire and Merseyside is to “not only improve access to general practice services for our population, but to achieve a single more consistent offer” in this space.

Along with improving access to routine and same day appointments by delivering more appointments overall, ensuring equality of access, and investing in the region’s primary care workforce, the plan highlights the importance of utilising technology that can “empower us with information to make decisions, make processes more efficient, give staff more flexibility and reduce costs”.

Priorities outlined by the ICB include increasing engagement with the NHS app across the region, supporting practices to move to digital telephony and call back functionality, and providing practices with digital tools and care navigation training.

Expanding on an aim for “simpler online requests”, the plan states that all practices must offer and promote the ability to access and use an ‘online consultation tool’ to support patients in seeking health advice, describing symptoms, asking questions, following up previous issues, and making clinical or administrative requests.

To read the plan in full, please click here.

In related news, NHS England recently published new guidance for primary care, focusing on helping general practice teams to use data in understanding and managing variations in demand and capacity.

And in a recent discussion with Max Gattlin and Sharon Hanley of Hanley Consulting, we discussed their automated assistant for general practice, their drive to optimise access and experience for patients, and their overall mission to help reduce pressure on primary care.