Using digital tools to facilitate periodic reviews of patients with long term conditions

Practices manage significant numbers of patients with long term conditions (LTCs) such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). These patients are required to be reviewed periodically to ensure their conditions are being managed, as well as identifying any signs of deterioration in a timely manner.

Situation

Management of LTCs is of acute importance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many common LTCs may put people at higher risk of COVID-19 severity and complications. Knowledge of other infections suggests that it is not just the presence of these conditions, but how well they are controlled, that will contribute to different outcomes from infection.

Aspiration

Ensure continuation of service delivery during times of national emergency.

Solution and impact

eConsult has developed clinical questionnaires for patients to provide information before, or instead of, their review appointment. These would also be available to patients to access from their practice’s eConsult page. The practice can proactively send the link to the review page or specific review questionnaire to the patient, notifying them that they need to complete it.

A practice in Cornwall sent 100 text messages to its asthmatic patients. In under a week it received 96 completed asthma eConsult review questionnaires. This cohort of patients had previously been sent letters by the practice inviting them for their annual review, but there had been no responses.

Texting the direct link makes it much easier for patients to engage. eConsult facilitates online, electronic encounters, providing the same value as a face-to-face or telephone GP appointment. Patients can submit symptoms using the eConsult system, available on the webpage of their GP practice or alternatively on the NHS app in England.

The submission is then reviewed for patients to be triaged to the relevant care facilities, allowing GPs to effectively manage and prioritise patients and continue to deliver care during COVID-19.

Functionality

The platform exists as an add-on banner to the existing GP website for patients to access.

These review questionnaires are available to all GP practices:

  • asthma
  • diabetes
  • blood pressure review
  • COPD
  • thyroid
  • contraceptive pill
  • medication review

Capabilities

  • It provides a thorough, standardised assessment of a patient's history and symptoms with patients able to upload photographs of conditions for review by a clinician
  • Any high-risk critical symptoms are flagged by the system with the patient being directed to acute care
  • GPs can provide local service information on the platform for patient redirections

Scope

  • The platform can be accessed by patients at any time, on any device, to submit an online consultation
  • Clinicians can then monitor, triage and prioritise the submissions accordingly

Key figures/quotes

  • eConsult is used by over 3200 NHS GP practices and 28 million patients
  • Over 8 million online consultations through the platform

Find out more

Watch this video to find out more about eConsult

This video can tell you more about how GPs use eConsult

Key contact

East Cornwall PCN, strategic manager, Paula Varndell-Dawes

p.varndell-dawes@nhs.net