Back in January we took a look into the advantages to GP practices, and to patients, of putting Patient Online services to good use. As we highlighted, there are numerous features available aside from online appointments and repeat prescription ordering.
Patients appreciate the ease and convenience of managing their health care needs online and indeed, today's consumer expects to be able to transact online: it has become a natural way of dealing with everything, even for the older generations.
One simple way of making a host of everyday patient tasks available online, outside of your clinical systems online services, is with the use of secure online forms.
All Tree View Designs GP practice websites come complete with a range of secure online forms that are designed to make life more straightforward for patients and practices alike.
Secure Online Forms: Advantages for Patients
Whether a patient is providing information or requesting it, a secure online form offers a fast, convenient and discreet way of communicating with the practice. The forms enable patients to make contact at an opportune time so, rather than having to find a gap in their schedule to make a phone call, they can complete a form during their commute, on their lunch break or in the evening when the surgery is otherwise closed and unable to deal with their enquiry.
There are numerous online forms available to the practice, with many more in the pipeline, all of which have been designed to be clear and as simple as possible to complete for patients. Each form includes a set of editable instructions for the patient together with a statement of reassurance concerning security.
Using an online form, patients can:
- Get in touch with the practice to make a comment or suggestion, to offer praise, to make a complaint or regarding a problem
- Register with a GP
- Update their address
- Order a repeat prescription
- Request a telephone consultation
- Cancel an appointment
- Sign up to the Patient Participation Group
- Update their clinical record
The form enabling patients to order a repeat prescription need not replace your clinical provider's online system. In fact, many practices opt to use both so that patients are able to enjoy greater choice. After all, different people have different preferences and some will be more comfortable with one method over another.
A sign-up form for the Patient Participation Group on the website is likely to be much more effective in attracting new members than a poster in a surgery. Instead of having to approach reception and hand-fill forms, patients can learn about the group from the practice website and complete the online application form in their own time.
Registering with a practice is also a time consuming task, with much hand-filling and personal delivery or posting of forms. Instead, new patients can complete all the necessary details online and submit for review easily and conveniently. The online registration form fully constitutes form GMS1.
Secure Online Forms: Advantages for Practice Staff
For GP practice staff, receiving patient information and enquiries via online forms is a far more streamlined way of working, particularly as opposed to fielding telephone calls and in-person visits.
Online forms offer time saving benefits for both clinical and administrative staff. All forms submitted by patients are sent securely to the practice email address of choice and if required, forms can be forwarded to more than one address. It is a simple task for the practice to enable whichever forms they wish to use and then display them where required on the practice website.
When used alongside an interactive new patient questionnaire, the New Patient Registration form (GMS1) allows practices to control new patient registrations via the website, again saving significant time for both clinical and administrative staff.
To ensure the correct information is supplied to practice staff, the forms carry mandatory fields and are designed only to allow the relevant information to be inputted by the patient. Drop-down lists can be individually tailored to only allow certain information to be input. This styling in itself ensures streamlining and efficiency for staff at the point of receiving the forms.
The secure online forms supplied as part of the Tree View Designs website package can be customised by the practice. The instructions on the right hand side can be re-worded in line with the preferences of the practice, as can the introductory text at the top of the form. The message displayed once a form has been submitted can also be amended to suit, as can the aforementioned drop-down menus.
We are constantly developing new secure online forms in response to the demands of our GP practice clients and patient feedback. One new addition that has been particularly well received is the one that allows patients to update their clinical records.
This form allows practices to gather information about patients which can then be entered onto their clinical records, so allowing the practice to earn Quality & Outcomes Framework (QOF) points. Factors such as height, weight, smoking status, alcohol consumption, allergies, ethnicity and carer information can all be input into the form.
Other new online forms in the pipeline include an alcohol questionnaire for adults; a travel form and an asthma annual review questionnaire. Many more are also in development.
Are you Making the Most of Your Secure Online Forms?
If your practice isn't using all the secure online forms that are currently available, why not think about activating more of them? The benefits to both patients and practice staff are clear and, if you take steps to make patients aware that the forms are there to help them communicate with the practice at their own convenience, you are sure to go a long way to boosting patient engagement.
Got an idea for a form? If you'd like us to look into designing a form that you feel would offer advantages for your practice and its patients, please let us know and we will add it to our review list.