What are we trying to do?
The Patient Automated Triage and Clinical Hub Scheduling system (PATCHS) has been designed by GPs and academics to help manage patient workload in primary care. PATCHS is an online consultation and triage system approved for use in the NHS.
To access the system patients visit their GP practice website and enter the reason they need to contact a GP. They are asked a number of relevant questions. PATCHS analyses this information along with the data already stored about the patient such as their age and medical history, all of which will combine to provide a tailored triage decision.
This project will test if the triage is safe and acceptable prior to use in clinical practice. This is necessary prior to its wider deployment and evaluation, which will be the focus of future studies.
Why is this important?
Primary care accounts for 90% of all NHS contacts with over 340m appointments per year. GP practices are under increasing strain due to increasing demand, staffing issues and budget constraints. An effective triage process that would efficiently and accurately direct patients to the appropriate services, be that a GP, alternative health professional or self-care - could significantly ease pressures on GPs by reducing avoidable consultations; estimated at 27%. This could save the NHS over £700m per year (based upon NHS England estimates of £100k annual savings per practice for telephone triage) while improving patient satisfaction, due to shorter waiting times and longer appointments. Unfortunately, current triage processes are inconsistent and often ineffective, relying on non-clinically trained staff such as GP receptionists.
On top of this, the NHS has mandated that all GP practices should provide online access to their patients, as part of long-term policy plans but also in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of these systems are difficult to use for patients and do not have automated triaged in-built.
How are we doing it?
We will test if the system is safe and acceptable prior to use in clinical practice by:
- Comparing PATCHS’ triage performance to that of a ‘typical’ GP.
- Conducting usability tests with patients and GP staff using PATCHS in a simulated environment, in addition to interviewing them about their experience. All users are also able to submit feedback about their experience using PATCHS.
Who are we working with?
PATCHS is funded by Innovate UK.
The project is affiliated to the Greater Manchester Patient Safety Translational Research Centre, and is supported by Salford CCG.
For further information please contact Rebecca McShane (Programme Manager)