Last Friday Jeremy Hunt announced that 5,000 GPs would be recruited to help provide 7 day access to GP services. Patients have been able to access their GP practice online for some time, but how often are they using online services outside of normal practice opening hours?
We can look at the data for patients’ use of online appointment booking, repeat prescription requests and online record access from the practices in England using Vision Online Services for week commencing 15 June 2015.
Daily access to online services
Monday is the busiest day and usage gradually slows down during the working week. There is a significant drop in activity on Saturday before it increases again on Sunday. The relatively low figures for the weekend hide the fact that one in five sessions took place at the weekend, when most GP practices are closed or offer very limited services.
The profile of a typical day
If we take a look at Monday 15 June in more detail we can see that the busiest time is between 7:00 and 10:00 in the morning, before a gradual decrease in activity to a plateau that continues into the evening. Surprisingly, there is a steady (but small) number of patients using online GP services throughout the night.
Convenient for patients. Convenient for practices.
48% of the sessions on Monday 15 June were either before 08:00 or after 17:00, when it is not usually possible to speak to the practice on the telephone.
However, this means that 52% of sessions took place when telephone access was also possible. Maybe it’s quicker or easier online, or perhaps some patients simply prefer the online approach. Either way, practices that are not promoting online services are missing out, because they’re manually processing all of their appointments and repeat prescription requests when more than half could be handled for them online.
You can read more about Vision Online Services here.