Engage Consult – Online Consultations

We’ve introduced an online consultation service so you don’t always need to come into the practice to get our medical expertise. Why not save time and try our new online service. You can input your symptoms online and will receive a response from the practice – usually that day, if a request is received within the Online Consultation daily request times (Before 14:00pm) . You will also have access to reliable and trustworthy self-help generic  information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week that may help you to avoid an appointment altogether. You can also use the service to request test results, sick notes, referral letters and medical reports. Online Consultation – It’s Simple, Safe and Personal

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are Online Consultations?

Online Consultations is a secure service provided by your practice that gives
patients the opportunity to request help for a non-emergency medical
problem or other practice matter at any time, even when the practice is
closed. You’ll usually receive a response the same day but sometimes it might
not be until the next working day. This means that if you wish to contact the
practice out of hours, on a Sunday for instance, with a request which does not
require an immediate or emergency response, you can send your request and
you will be contacted once the practice is next open and the request has been
reviewed.

What kind of question can I ask?

You can ask anything that doesn’t require an immediate emergency response.
There are generally two categories of question:
1. An admin or other query, for instance: “have you sent the letter for my
referral yet” or “I haven’t heard about my appointment with the diabetic
nurse yet, can you help?”
2. A request for help with a non-emergency medical problem. If you select
this option you will be asked to enter the reason you are requesting
help e.g. sore throat, back pain etc. and then you’ll be asked a series of
relevant medical questions. The answers to these questions will provide
very useful information to help the GP or practice nurse decide what to
do next in order to help you best.

What happens if I cannot find a suitable subject?

In the unlikely event that you’re unable to find a match for the problem that
you enter, you’ll be prompted to send a simple message about your issue.
You’ll then be contacted to discuss your request as though you’d completed a
questionnaire.

Why is this service better than just speaking to the doctor or nurse?

Giving the GP or practice nurse the opportunity to review and think about your
problem and list of symptoms before discussing it with you will enable your
doctor or nurse to be better prepared and can lead to a more efficient
resolution of your problem. There’s also evidence that providing the
information and being stimulated to think about the medical issue by the
questionnaire is a positive experience for patients.

How do I know how long the questionnaire will take?

It’s difficult to predict how long individual questionnaires will take to complete
as each question you’re asked depends on the answer you gave to previous
questions. Most questionnaires are completed within 5 to 10 minutes, however,
if your problem is particularly complex you may find that it takes longer than
this; please bear with the process though as the information will be very useful
both to you and the GP or practice nurse who’ll be treating you.

Why can’t I have a response by email?

The NHS doesn’t encourage the use of email between medical professionals
and patients as personal email addresses outside of the NHS are not
necessarily secure, this means that your information may not remain private.
We take your privacy very seriously. It is true that some patients have private
arrangements with their doctors which means that they use email, this is
entirely between you and your doctor.
The online consultation service we use provides a messaging system so that
you can have a secure and private electronic discussion with your general
practice instead. You need to create an account with the service to make this
option available to you and the practice.

What happens to the information gathered?

Any information gathered is sent directly to your practice. This will then be
handled within the practice in the same way as any other information patients
provide and will be subject to the usual privacy and security rules. The
information you enter, in a totally anonymised fashion, may be used for
service improvement however it will not be released to any third parties or be
kept in an identifiable format.

I have heard that doctors are encouraging people to “self-care” and I wonder
if online consultation can help with this?

We would always encourage people to search out information to help
themselves with medical problems where appropriate. We’ll provide links to
established and reliable sources of medical information which you may decide
to use either to help with an existing medical problem or to deal with a new
medical problem. Online consultation provides an efficient method of asking
for non-emergency medical help from your General Practice so, if you do
decide to self-manage a problem you can do so, safe in the knowledge that
should you wish to ask for help or advice you’ll be able to get a response.

Does the service use artificial intelligence to decide on a course of action?

No. The consultation you send is always reviewed and assessed by an
appropriately qualified member of our team. If you send an administrative
consultation this will be one of our administrative team who may then discuss
this with a clinician (e.g. if you ask when your repeat prescription will be ready
they may need to check with a doctor). If you send a medical consultation this
will always be assessed by an appropriately qualified clinician.

Am I able to ask for a response from a particular GP or nurse?

Generally, yes. Most practices who use Online Consultation list the GPs and
other staff who are available and there’s an option for you to choose who you
would like advice from. Obviously, it’s impossible to always guarantee a
response from a named individual as they may not be available. In the event
that the person who you have asked for is unable to respond then you will
hear from the practice anyway.

How do you know the identity of the person sending a message?

Practice staff will identify patients and their carers when they review the
information sent to the practice, which includes patient (and carer) identifiable
data – name, date of birth and phone number, comparing this against that
held in the patient record, along with other useful information such as the
problem identified or additional comments made in the submission. If they
feel they need to contact the patient or carer to verify the patient’s identity,
they will. This is no different to current practice and is taken very seriously. If
at any time the practice staff are unsure of the identity of the person being
spoken to, they will be asked to attend the practice in person.