Thinking about what’s convenient for patients is behind a new initiative being introduced in two Hutt Valley general practices this month.
Ropata Medical Centre and Hutt City Health Centre are making it easier for their patients get in touch, whether it’s online, by having more appointments available after work, or by talking to their GP on the phone.
Patients calling these practices first thing in the morning who are requesting an appointment that day may talk directly to a GP or nurse. Raewyn Montgomery from Hutt City Health Centre says talking to a health professional means some issues can be resolved over the phone, saving patients time and the hassle of coming into the practice.
"Instead of coming into one of our old drop-in clinics in the afternoon and hoping you won't have to wait too long to be seen, people can call first thing and they may have a conversation with their GP or nurse. If they need to be seen that day, we'll arrange that. Or it might make more sense to ask them to get some tests done before an appointment later in the week, so we have the best information to hand when we do see them," Raewyn Montgomery said.
"We want to provide the care our patients need, while making the best use of their time."
Both Hutt City Health Centre and Ropata Medical Centre offer extended opening hours, increasing the opportunity for patients to see their doctor outside of normal working hours. Greater flexibility of hours means patients may not need to take time off work and potentially lose income.
"As well as being open in the evenings, we've introduced an online service, through a patient portal so people can order repeat prescriptions, book appointments, check results and message their GP or nurse directly from their home or work," said Dr Paul Rowan, a GP at Ropata Medical Centre.
"We've also moved phones off our front desk, which is better for patients who call in and creates a calmer environment for people in the waiting area."
These are the first of a number of improvements planned to make both practices more patient- centred and efficient, all part of an initiative called Health Care Home.
Hutt Valley DHB’s Helene Carbonatto says the DHB, which established this model in the Hutt Valley region and funds the programme, wants to remove the barriers many people face when accessing healthcare.
“We were very pleased to be able to build a model in the Hutt that supports patients to play a greater role in in how they access and use their own healthcare services.”
Te Awakairangi Health Network Chief Executive Bridget Allan said it was great to see Health Care Home being introduced to the Hutt Valley.
"The early results from regions where Health Care Home is up and running are very promising. I'm confident that patients will continue to see improvements as it is adopted by other practices in the Hutt Valley," Bridget Allan said.
More than 30,000 people are enrolled with Hutt City Health Centre and Ropata Medical Centre collectively.
More information about Health Care Home is available at www.healthcarehome.co.nz
A nationwide project to improve access and support for patients, Health Care Home is being rolled out to general practices in the Hutt Valley by Te Awakairangi Health Network, supported by Cosine (another primary health organisation) and Hutt Valley DHB.