Phone, video, visit? Themes emerge in GP access discovery
Technology is also encouraging more young women and middle-aged men to book appointments – but GPs in short supply
18 March 2022
Why we’re doing this research
The COVID pandemic rapidly sped up changes to the way people use GP services, especially online. Now is a good time to find out how these changes have affected people using and providing those services.
The discovery project’s findings will help shape the development of public-facing digital services for GP practices in Wales and identify ways to improve access.
What we’ve done so far
The team has interviewed:
- 23 GPs and practice colleagues, such as receptionists
- 12 people, with and without existing health conditions, who have used GP services recently
We interviewed small samples of patients and clinicians, carefully chosen for a mix of characteristics. We approached GP practices of all sizes, in both urban and rural settings, across all health boards. From the interviews, we’ve identified emerging themes.
What we’re asking people
We are asking people who’ve recently used GP services things like:
- how they contact their GP practice for tasks like making an appointment, requesting a repeat prescription, getting blood test results
- how they ‘met’ their GP – face-to-face, by phone or video call
- what they think about having access to their own medical records online
We’re also speaking to GP practice staff about their view of how people access their services: what is working well and what needs to improve.
What we’re discovering
We have more interviews to complete, but themes are already emerging.
We’ve learned that:
- as a response to the pandemic, many GP practices now offer a phone appointment first – with the benefit that they can offer more phone appointments than face-to-face consultations
- some people prefer phone, rather than in-person consultations, practices say, as it gives them greater flexibility; they do not have to travel to their GP surgeries
- many patients would like a choice in how they communicate with their GP surgery – in-person, by phone or video call or even email
- providing online access to GP practices brings challenges, but also benefits; new groups of people, mainly younger women and middle-aged men, who have not seen their GPs before, are asking for appointments
- demand for GP services is growing, while hiring and retaining GPs is difficult
During the next project phase, we will:
- finish remaining interviews
- analyse the final research data
Email Hannah Pike, delivery manager on the Primary Care Pathfinder, with questions about this project.