Suffolk firm’s GP phone system shortlisted for national award

Paul Bensley, X-on managing director

Suffolk-based cloud communications provider X-on has been shortlisted for Technology /Digital Solutions Provider of the year in the annual General Practice Awards, for its advanced telephony solution for primary care.

Surgery Connect is used by hundreds of practices and multiple clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to transform patient and professional communication, helping them to cope with the increasing demands on primary care.

Members of the public were asked to vote for their favourite supplier in advance of shortlisting. Now a panel of primary care experts will judge the winner later this year.

Surgery Connect customers regularly report very positive feedback from their staff as they enjoy multiple time-saving improvements from the introduction of the system.

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The system replaces outdated telephone systems with a cloud-based VOIP service that gives practices multiple phone lines and call-back functionality, so patients can avoid the ‘fastest finger lottery’ when making an appointment with their family doctor.

Surgery Connect helps patients cancel or rearrange appointments using their phone handset. This helps to reduce the admin burden on staff, and the number of times patients do not attend (DNA) GP appointments. Such DNAs cost the NHS more than £216m each year, according to NHS England.

The phone system is also helping family doctors achieve the NHS England policy of extending patient access. It provides a central contact centre for networks of practices so that patients can call outside of normal working hours to make appointments.

“With Surgery Connect, we can have an unlimited number of lines, and use features such as call queuing and call recording to help improve patient access and better manage how we deal with calls,” said Steve Sharpe, practice manager at Montgomery-House surgery in Bicester.

Surgery Connect is providing a platform for a more collaborative way of working between practices and other healthcare providers, as they look to form the new Primary Care Networks that have been set up under the NHS Long Term Plan. “It gives us a great opportunity for more joined-up working,” said Worcestershire CCG IT lead James Harley.

GPs also use Surgery Connect for telephone triage. Doctors can call patients using their preferred contact number and with their clinical details in front of them, saving time spent searching for patient information. Some practices are also trialling the use of video using the same phone handset, providing patients with more convenient ways to contact their surgery, in line with national moves to offer new forms of consultation.

X-on managing director Paul Bensley said: “GP surgeries are faced with ever-increasing demand, and it is pleasing to see our technology recognised for how it is helping. The system helps GP surgeries use modern, adaptable communication tools that can help them manage demand, and deliver a better patient experience. We look forward to the awards ceremony and working with practices for many years to come.”  

The winners will be announced at the awards night in London, on 29th November 2019.