Digital First Primary Care

Better care, closer to home.

Digital First Primary Care is a nationally funded programme that harnesses the power of technology and data to help people access the advice, support and treatment they need to live a healthier life. For example, patients can use a secure form on the surgery website to contact their GP or ask for help and advice on their condition.

Most GP surgeries, hospitals, mental health services and community care services now offer video consultations. They contact the patient with a video call to their smartphone, tablet or computer, enabling them to talk to the patient and see them. This can save patients time as you will not need to travel for a face-to-face appointment. It can also help to prevent the spread of infection.

Monitoring blood pressure at home

High blood pressure is a major cause of heart attacks and strokes. Helping patients to monitor their blood pressure at home means that they can manage their blood pressure and take steps such as lifestyle changes to improve their health and reduce the risk of developing serious health problems.

Monitoring blood pressure at home through our new service ‘BP@Home’ is easy and means that patients no longer need to visit their GP surgery to have their readings taken. Patients take their blood pressure using a blood pressure monitor, which can be provided free to the patient, and submit their results via digital App, text, email or even by phone. Their results are added to their clinical notes digitally and later examined by a clinician.

Patients can then be given advice on changes they could make to their lifestyle e.g. diet or exercise, and where necessary, prescribed medication in order to help them manage their blood pressure more effectively over time.

Testing for Chronic Kidney Disease in patients with diabetes

One in ten people in the UK suffer from chronic kidney disease, a long-term condition where kidney function gradually declines. It is often difficult to spot symptoms until it has reached an advanced stage and people with the condition are at greater risk of a stroke or heart attack. It can also cause kidney failure, when sufferers will need to have dialysis and a possible transplant. 

We are working with a provider, Healthy.io, to ensure that patients with diabetes who have not had their annual albumin – creatinine ratio test (ACR) with the GP practice for more than 12 months due to the pandemic, are able to receive a free test kit which is delivered through their letterbox. The test is important in ensuring that early signs of chronic kidney disease is detected and treated.

Patients can carry out the simple urine test using a Smart App and camera which sends the result back to their GP digitally and at the same time notifies the patient of the result.  Where the patient has a higher-than-normal result steps can be taken by the GP practice to support the patient through medication and lifestyle changes which can prevent the condition getting worse.

Community Pharmacy Consultation Service

Our GP to Community Pharmacy Consultation Service (CPCS) helps patients get the right help at the right time from the right healthcare professional.

When a patient books an appointment to see their GP, the trained GP reception staff will ask some questions about how they can help them. This will ensure that the patient is given the most appropriate care as quickly as possible and might mean the team directs them to see a health professional other than a GP.

If the patient’s symptoms suggest they have a minor illness, such as cold or flu symptoms, aches and pains, skin rashes, bites and stings, sore throat or a tummy upset, the practice staff will explain that they are going to refer the patient to see a community pharmacist.

Community pharmacists are highly trained health professionals with expertise in medicines and helping patients with minor illnesses.

The reception team will contact the pharmacist to make the appointment, which will be made on the same day, or within 12 hours depending on the time the patient contacts the practice.

The pharmacist will call the patient for a confidential consultation and, if necessary, they will arrange for the patient to visit the pharmacy. They will offer self-care advice and may recommend over-the-counter medication.

If the pharmacist believes the patient’s symptoms suggest a more serious condition, they will help arrange an urgent GP appointment or escalate to an urgent care setting.

The pharmacist will make a record of the outcome and will send this via secure digital messaging to the patient’s GP – so that patient records are always up to date.

The benefits of this service to patients

  • Patients will be referred by the practice and the pharmacist will contact them.
  • Patients will be seen more quickly as community pharmacies are open for longer and at weekends.
  • The pharmacist will give advice on treatment, enabling the patent to recover more quickly.
  • Patients can choose a pharmacy near their home or work – whichever is the most convenient.
  • Depending on the illness the pharmacist may recommend over-the-counter medication which the patient can choose to purchase if they wish. Often, over-the-counter treatments are inexpensive and cheaper than prescription medication.

Using the CPCS service means patients have better access to the care they need, and will help to reduce waiting lists, enabling patients with acute and complex conditions get an appointment more quickly.

Feedback

If you are referred to a community pharmacist by your GP practice, we would appreciate hearing your feedback about how you found the service by completing completing our shourt survey. Your comments will help us further develop and improve the service for more patients.