Appointment times cut by 45%

The Practice and the issue

In Primary Care time is always under pressure and time spent on paperwork reduces the time available to spend with patients. Rushing paperwork often leads to incomplete or illegible forms and in the case of patient tests this can cause a major headache for the labs.

Based in Bridgwater in Somerset, The New East Quay Medical Centre is typical of many modern surgeries. It has multiple GP partners, Nurse Practitioners, Practice Nurses and 3 Healthcare Assistants – all of whom support over 13,000 patients across the local area.

As with most surgeries, East Quay Medical Centre carries out patient tests which are sent to the local laboratory for analysis. This process used to involve the doctor or nurse filling out the patient details on both a card and a label that are attached to the sample bag and the sample tube. The local laboratory at Musgrove Park Hospital often found it difficult to read the handwriting or found that some important details were missing. This either resulted in huge amount of time being wasted trying to locate the individual on the patient administration system or in the creation of a new record – thus resulting in many duplicates, making data retrieval difficult.

The Solution

Looking for a solution the local laboratory worked with the local Informatics team to pilot in practices – including East Quay Medical Centre - the use of printed labels. LabelTrace provided an easy to use labelling system comprising LabelTrace software and a compact Zebra LP2824 barcode label printer that prints a perforated label that splits into two pieces – onto the tube. This eliminated the need for laboratory staff to hand write labels altogether, thereby making it far quicker to log the sample into the lab and avoid the creation of duplicate patient records.

East Quay Medical Centre became one of the first Somerset practices to pilot the use of LabelTrace.

Labels print from the patient details in a few seconds

Trial results

Within hours of the trial it was immediately apparent that the LabelTrace system was going to be a huge timesaver for both the surgery staff and the lab. There was virtually no training needed as the equipment was very easy to use. An email with instructions was all that was required.

Practice Manager Rachel Stark comments “The almost automatic process in printing labels means time taken to add details to the form is reduced dramatically. This means that the doctor, nurse or HCA can spend more time with the patient. Typically, blood tests were taking an average of 10 minutes per patient but a significant period of this appointment was spent completing the forms by hand. With LabelTrace form filling has meant that there is less time pressure on the appointment. For us this has meant this time can be used to carry out other useful patients checks – for example data collection for QOF targets. We have also considered reducing appointments for blood tests to 7.5 or even 5 minutes.”

Expansion

As a result of the highly successful trial East Quay Medical Centre started to think about other areas of the practice that could benefit from LabelTrace. It then purchased a further 12 LabelTrace printers, which Rachel installed herself. As well as these being used for all possible forms and paperwork that require patients details – i.e private service forms such as insurance claims and sick notes - the practice also use them for forms the patient has to complete and return to the surgery. By using preprinted labels processing time is saved once the form is received back as it is easier to read and completed fully.

Rachel Stark concludes “The LabelTrace system has proved to be hugely popular with all the staff at East Quay Medical Centre. The printers take up very little space on the desk and are very reliable. Codegate were quick to resolve a small problem we had during installation with the interface with EMIS as they have excellent understanding of the clinical IT systems. With Codegate and LabelTrace we now have a solution that is saving us huge amounts of time and is helping both our surgery and the laboratory to create a unified system for primary care.”