Just musing on why such a mashup of last Friday’s headlines sounds strange. It challenges our notions of predictability, whether the latest government IT project would fail, or the eclipse would happen on 20th March.
I often ask a practice team, “Which is more predictable, your 10,000 random patients or your six dedicated professionals?” There’s a pause, then one of the GPs chips in, “Well, obviously, we… oh, you’re going to say no?”
Quite simply, the patients win every time.
Our data from over 7 million records shows the demand for GP consultations is an average of 6-7% of list per week. The variation is predictably driven by deprivation and age profile, the highest we’ve seen being 10%. Few family practices are below 5%, but a student practice may see only 3% even in term time.
Within the week there’s a daily pattern, for example Mondays are 28% of demand, and this varies little between practices. It means we can say how many patient calls to expect per day, usually within 10%, though many tell me it’s within 5%.
Even through the day, we know pretty well how many will call each hour. It starts high, especially before launch as patients have been used to scarce appointments. This does change over time and smoothes out as anxiety falls away. We have some wonderful pictures for these changes, as the Blackpool Tower morphs into the Big Dipper.
Before: anxiety demand spikes at 8am, thereafter, “go away.”
After, same practice, people call when ill, observing a civilised lunch.
Now predicting the GPs, that’s hard, ask any practice manager.
Founder, Chief Executive
GP Access Ltd
PS We’ve been having fun with a north London practice launching askmyGP. In the first full week, over 10% of demand has shifted online.
People have asked us how it might look from their practice website, and it would be unfair to clog up real ones so we’ve created a virtual practice, Bramley Surgery. It’s in full working order so you can try yourself, just don’t expect a real GP to call back.