Across the nation’s GP surgeries, hospitals and community hub clinics, tens of thousands of life-saving jabs are being delivered to elderly and vulnerable patients every single day. The COVID vaccination programme is being delivered at phenomenal pace and scale, and is, as our CEO explained in an Independent article this month, showcasing the very best of NHS planning, organisation and cooperation.
The delivery is a collective effort, relying on cross-organisational NHS staff members and volunteers to work together. However, inevitably, much of the labour burden is falling on GPs. According to the Covid-19 Vaccines Delivery Plan, at least 15m people in the UK will receive at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by mid-February, and the bulk of the jabs will be delivered by GPs.
In the North Cotswolds we've been very fortunate to be inviting our patients for vaccination to a hub at the local community hospital. This has been staffed by PCN staff and GP and nurse volunteers mainly on their days off. Consequently the main impact on the practice has been the short time frame to invite patients to clinics which has taken up significant admin time. The other issue was having to cancel patients' second vaccines.
Dr Jacquie Williams, Chipping Campden Surgery
This extension of service provision comes on top of schedules already packed with routine care and remote consultations, and with the vaccine programme scheduled to run well into the summer and autumn of 2021, our GPs (and their colleagues providing community-based care) are at real risk of burnout.
It’s imperative that we get the right tools into their hands: tools that will save them crucial minutes when remotely consulting with patients, tools that will allow them to work from home when necessary, and tools that will facilitate the conversations with colleagues that quickly secure the right care for patients.
Cinapsis calls are being answered swiftly with invaluable advice and support. I can't thank my secondary care colleagues enough for their support and advice at this time when they must be under immense pressure. Very helpful conversation and management the other day for a patient of mine with hyperkalaemia. They were seen later that day for a scan, fluids and repeat bloods.
Dr Jacquie Williams, Chipping Campden Surgery
At Cinapsis, we’re working hard to roll out our technology across more local areas; we are currently onboarding GP practices in Norfolk, Liverpool, Herefordshire and Worcestershire. Stressed and overburdened clinicians in these regional CCGs will have one-click access to the Cinapsis SmartReferrals platform via a dedicated toolbar on their EMIS or SystmOne systems.
The time and labour savings that Cinapsis SmartReferrals delivers really add up to make a difference to the day-to-day lives of busy GPs. For example, instead of waiting days for email or phone responses to their patient referral queries, GPs can, in seconds, open up Cinapsis SmartReferrals on their phones or computers to rapidly exchange messages, video and voice calls, and clinical images with their Secondary Care colleagues. With the patient literally sitting in their consultation room, GPs can securely take clinical photos using their mobile phones and send them to a specialist, find out which tests they ought to be referring the patient for, or find out the best time of day to arrange transportation for the patient to the appropriate hospital department directly through the platform. GPs tell us the system saves them anything between 5-30 minutes per patient compared to previous referral processes and, more importantly, it ensures their referrals are appropriate.
By streamlining these communication channels, it becomes vastly easier for GPs to action an impactful treatment plan for each patient. Because these decisions are made more quickly, patients are never sent to the wrong place, meaning that they need fewer follow-up appointments and GPs need to spend less time chasing up unnecessary referrals or test results.
I enjoy being able to speak with a specialist directly, and also to be able to get a reply quite quickly and reliably for dermatology problems.
GP Registrar, Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
So refreshing to have an IT system, not least an NHS one, that works better than expected!
GP, Brunston & Lydbrook Practice
A common fear amongst veteran GPs is that every new tech tool they are introduced to actually ends up adding to their workload, on account of it being difficult to use and not integrated with their existing systems or workflows. However, because Cinapsis SmartReferrals has been built in partnership with healthcare professionals, the platform has been integrated with EMIS Web and SystmOne to allow GPs to request advice and guidance directly from the electronic patient record. Furthermore, the system is easy to deploy and requires minimal training. As Dr Malcolm Gerald, Clinical Lead for Digital Urgent Care at One Gloucestershire ICS, explains:
Cinapsis is a system which can be evolved to meet the needs of the doctors using it; it’s really quick and easy to add extra features and functionality.
Rather than trying to train hundreds of people to use a new system, it’s much more efficient to seamlessly integrate new tech into existing systems - so the user can’t even tell from the interface that they’re accessing a tool from a new provider. That’s what you can do with Cinapsis.
Now, with pressures on Primary Care teams set to be chronically elevated, it is time-saving tech platforms like Cinapsis that could make the difference when it comes to combining a successful vaccination campaign with delivering every day clinical services to patients.