Online-Consultations

All patients have the right to online consultation and video consultation by April 2021: online consultations by April 2020 and consultations via video by April 2021.

Online Consultations Definition 

Online consultations allow people to contact their GP practice without having to wait on the phone or take time to come into the practice.

Online consultations enable patients to use a secure online system to ask questions, report symptoms and upload photos. The practice then looks at the request and responds within a stated timeframe, signposting the patient to the right person, service or support.  Currently, practices use either an online triage system or a questionnaire-based system, with their own staff delivering the service.

eConsult

OCCG with funds from NHSE has procured eConsult which is an online triage system that enables patients to submit requests for support via online forms.  eConsult also has the functionality to support video consultations. 

The deadline for implementation of an online system is 1st April 2020.  The set up process for eConsult takes approximately 30 days so please do not delay.  Practice should consider the importance of planning for effective implementation and utilisation of the system so that the practice and patients can realise benefits from using it in terms of access and increased efficiency.  Funding received from NHSE was for two years from January 2019.  At this stage we await clarification on funding after this initial two year period; practices may need to take on continued costs after this time. 

How to find out more about eConsult  

Using a Different Provider

Some practices in Oxfordshire are using different systems to provide online consultations.  The national guidance is that it is mandatory to purchase an online consultation solution via the Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) framework*. This guidance is there because the framework provides an extra level of protection and assurances as suppliers not only have to meet the technical specification, but also pass a number of checks and meet regulatory standards. However, if you are looking at a company outside of the DPS then we would advise you have a conversation with the national team at:  england.digitalfirstprimarycare@nhs.net or commercial.procurementhub@nhs.net who can advise on whether it has the right functionality to meet online consultations and what to consider. 

If practices do decide to procure a system that has not been approved, it will be the responsibility of the practice to demonstrate how they achieve quality assurance requirements in line with standard DCB0160 which usually requires the expertise of a clinical safety officer. Please refer to the full toolkit for more details.

*Information on current DPS approved companies

Please note OCCG will not make any financial contribution towards any other system so this will be at the cost of the practice.

Resources

A national implementation toolkit is available (193 pages).  This comprehensive guide provides a range of ideas and options for different professionals, including clinicians, at different points in their implementation journey. 

Following feedback the national team have produced a much shorter simpler toolkit (93 pages) for practices on implementing online consultations. It has been broken down into sections so practices can focus on different areas, so hopefully more manageable.  It references the main toolkit if a particular question requires more detail.

An evaluation form is also available as a downloadable template.  This can be used by GP practices to support them in measuring the impact of online consultations as a whole, from a clinician and patient perspective. 

For further information contact Niki Roberts, Primary Care Project Manager.

 

Updated: 7 January 2020