Digital GP service via Spreekuur
Thanks to the digital GP station, healthcare professionals experience less work pressure and patients more service.
Improved service for patients and less workload for healthcare professionals with digital GP centre
Thanks to the digital GP service, healthcare professionals experience less work pressure and patients get improved service. The patient does not call, but answers questions and shares photos digitally. The doctor on duty in the evening or at the weekend can give advice within 30 minutes via chat or video call.
Long waiting time and high workload
Urgent complaints in the evening or at the weekend can be addressed to the GP after-hours clinic. That way, GPs offer patients in their region 24-hour care. Especially during the weekend it is very busy at the clinic. The doctor on duty spends more time with patients who are not from their own practice, because the medical context is unknown. This results in high workloads for doctors. The waiting time in the waiting room can increase if a patient with a more serious complaint has to be treated first. In addition, at weekends, the triage operator's line is often busy which is the first point of contact for patients. The triage operator must first identify a patient and then assess the seriousness of the complaint. As a result, patients with an urgent question may be on hold for a long time during peak hours.
Topicus and DigiDok approach
We sat down with care innovator DigiDok to jointly make a fully-fledged, digital emergency treatment option possible. One that reduces the pressure on the GP after-hours clinic and shortens waiting times for patients. We identified that a secure online platform is needed for the collection of basic patient data and data on the medical condition and (severity of) the complaint, including photos. The GP should have a digital overview of this information at a glance and points of attention should be highlighted. Furthermore, the GP must be able to give advice to the patient immediately via chat. If necessary, the doctor can also video call. Finally, the module must be linked to the system of the GP station and the information systems of the patients' practices.
“Putting the patient first is still not a given in healthcare, while, in my opinion, we really need to put the patient first. For the patient to travel less and to be able to address concerns faster is very valuable. And as a care provider, you also benefit indirectly from this.''
Dianne JaspersMedical director of the Eemland GP after-hours centre and launching customer
Approach and solution
It became clear fairly quickly that together, Topicus and DigiDok met all the requirements to provide a solution under the heading of 'Spreekuur'. DigiDok's knowledge and contacts made it possible to draw up the necessary questionnaires about various types of complaints. Questionnaires that comply with general practitioner standards and guidelines and that have been validated by universities.
The necessary software and links to start within a few months were facilitated by our VIPLive platform. For example, this platform has a link to Topicus HAP, which is used by 60 per cent of GP surgeries and there are links to almost all GP information systems. Furthermore, the platform offers a secure chat (including photos), a questionnaire module and a patient portal.
The time and energy was mainly spent on the further development of our patient portal and the further integration of the VIPLive questionnaire module. DigiDok ensured that the questionnaires about the first ten treatment areas were validated by the University Medical Centre Utrecht (UMCU).
Huisartsenpost Eemland and Zilveren Kruis and VGZ, the insurers involved, are enthusiastic that Spreekuur offers a total solution. All the elements of digital communication via chat and image calling, validated questionnaires and data access are connected. At the start of March 2020, Eemland was the first to open a digital GP after-hours clinic via Spreekuur.
Impact with IT
The digital GP after-hours clinic service is a great success among healthcare providers and patients. This was accelerated by the coronavirus. It fills an enormous need for comprehensive healthcare at a distance. We initially hoped for 600 consultations in the first three months; this number was reached within a month. In Eemland, 54% of physical consultations were avoided during the three-month pilot. Over 4,000 patients were treated digitally in the first four months. They gave a high 'net promoter score' of 59%. Meanwhile, other regions including Rotterdam and Drenthe have also started using Spreekuur. They use it both for GP after-hours services and for GP practices.
- Increased service to patients, because they are helped within 30 minutes and no longer have to wait in the queue or go to the location.
- Less workload for triage workers, because a proportion of patients digitally prepare for treatment themselves and thereby free up the line.
- Less workload for GPs, because they can advise patients faster, thanks to the digital preparation.
- Automatic processing of the treatment in the GP after-hours system and in the patient’s GP system.