Thanks to increased support from NHS Lothian (whose phone system we’re given to use) and BT (who provide the phone system) in March 2023 we were able to make some of the changes to our phone system that patients had been asking for. Our phone system now mirrors what’s in place at other local Practices.
You said: It’s so frustrating when the system terminates my call when your phonelines and queue are full, after making me choose options and listen to messages first.
We did: Patients now simply hear an engaged tone if our lines are all full. Please hang up and re-dial later if you hear the engaged tone. Once you get through into the queue, if you stay on hold our Reception team will always answer your call.
You said: I’d like to know what number I am in the queue, and for this to be counted down as I progress through the queue.
We did: This functionality is now in place.
You said: The different options you ask me to select are confusing.
We did: These options have now been removed.
You said: The messages I hear about other local health board services while I’m on hold are confusing.
We did: We’ve now updated these messages to make them clearer for patients – instead of giving people numbers and times to call local health board services, we ask them to visit our website. Our website has also been updated to make it as clear as possible which other services patients can call to book direct, without calling us first.
Before making these changes we spoke with a number of patients with expertise in contact centre management and took their feedback on board. All were agreed that this new approach was an improvement over the old phone system and we hope our other patients feel the same.
We hope patients find these changes beneficial and we welcome any feedback about them – this can be passed on to us via our online phone feedback form or by asking for a hard copy of the feedback form at Reception.
New online services
Another focus area is developing our online services. We want to offer patients who prefer to do things online increased opportunities to do this, rather than asking them to call us. In November we began a pilot project where we asked people taking HRT if they’d like to fill in an online form to have their medication reviewed, rather than via calling us to book a GP review appointment. Over three quarters of patients who used the form during the pilot period said they prefer (or may prefer) this new approach, which is really encouraging. We’ll now look to extend this approach to other medications over the course of 2023.
Another area we’re considering is a service called Vision Online, which would allow patients to order their prescriptions more easily and get status updates on their request, as well as booking blood test and some nurse appointments online. We hope to update patients on if and when this will be possible shortly. This will be a slightly longer-term project, as it requires us to manually approve each patient who registers for the service, which be a considerable additional task for our busy call handling & admin team.