You, the practice nurse, have fabulous opportunities to improve health. You are often the clinician with the most continuity and expertise in caring for people with long term conditions (LTCs). Here is an opportunity that takes you almost no time, that you can grasp today.
When reviewing people with LTCs, encourage them to register for online patient-facing services – booking appointments, ordering repeat prescriptions and having access to their GP records.
By doing this, you can feel confident that your patients will learn more about their health conditions, have a better relationship with the practice, feel more inclined to take the medicines and it will save the practice and themselves time. In fact, if 30% of your patients looked at their GP records twice or more per year, the practice is likely to save 10% of their appointments and hundreds of telephone calls.
These services are part of the GP contract, so all practices have to make it available and promote them. All you, the practice nurse, needs to do is to recommend that your LTC patients ask reception for the linkage key to register for online services. You can say that, without phoning or attending the practice, they can book and cancel appointments, check their test results and order their repeats, bringing them into the 21st century.
This is the testimony of an elderly woman who uses an app to do the work for her: ‘Online access has proved very beneficial. The greatest benefit is keeping tabs on my long term conditions, which require monitoring and follow-up. ‘Being able to view entries, results, and letters has helped me come to terms with my problems, and the confidence to take control of my health. I now arrange appointments, blood tests, and prescriptions without the frustrations of phoning the surgery. I can see when injections are due, vaccinations I’ve had, and unexpectedly found an answer to a question asked many times. 1960 – “chicken pox”. Yes, I’ve had it, mystery solved!’
Grab the opportunity. Help your patients – and your practice by joining this digital revolution.
Brian Fisher is a semi-retired GP in South East London and vice chair of the NHS Alliance