Self-Book solution from Accurx found to reduce pressure on primary care staff and improve the patient experience
An independent study of ‘Self-Book’ technology reveals potential savings of over £650,000 for integrated care boards over the next year.
The evaluation, by Unity Insights and Prova Health, looked at both quantitative and qualitative data and concluded that, if scaled nationally, Self-Book – a software solution from Accurx – would bring benefits of at least £123m over five years to primary care providers across England, felt primarily through reductions in the number of phone calls GP practices handle and fewer ‘did not attends.’
Accurx is already used by 98% of GP practices and Self-Book is a key part of its offering, enabling GP practices to invite patients – either either individually or in batches – to book for specific appointment types.
Patients receive an SMS with a booking link for a particular clinic or service, and can book online at a time that suits them, rather than joining the 8am phone rush to make an appointment.
The bookings sync with practice appointment books, making management of clinics like flu and COVID vaccinations, cervical screening, blood tests, and asthma reviews much less admin intensive.
The evaluation of the technology is published at a time when the Network Contract Directed Enhanced Service (DES) has seen changes for 2023/24, focusing around priorities including flu vaccinations.
And it shows that 77% of patients found using Self-Book easier than calling their practice to make an appointment, a significant finding in the context of increasing concerns around access to primary care and the upcoming publication of the recovery plan for primary care access.
‘Did not attends’ were found to fall as a result of the intervention, while practices saw that those using the function shifted thousands of calls to Self-Book links.
Practice staff also unanimously reported that Self-Book has saved them time, improved ways of working, helped to fill unused capacity (often at short notice), and improved overall practice efficiency.
The evaluation also found that Self-Book reduced health inequalities by reducing call queues for patients that need support on the phone and by providing an easier alternative to phoning for non-English speaking patients.
And practices in more-deprived areas saw higher uptake rates of Self-Book compared to less-deprived areas when COVID and flu appointments were excluded.
From GPs inviting patients to book follow-up bloods, to reception staff inviting patients for routine screenings or vaccinations; we are excited to see how hard-working practices up and down the country are using Self-Book to innovate their services
Jacob Haddad, chief executive at Accurx, said: “Every day we hear directly from practice staff about the enormous pressures they are under, but also how simple technology is making a difference.
“This evaluation quantifies the size of that difference on the day-to-day lives of staff working in busy practices, on the time saved and wastage reduced, and on improving access to essential health services.
“From GPs inviting patients to book follow-up bloods, to reception staff inviting patients for routine screenings or vaccinations; we are excited to see how hard-working practices up and down the country are using Self-Book to innovate their services.”