The tints of autumn are no less uplifting for not being a complete surprise this October. Even less “surprising” but much rarer was the lunar eclipse last Monday morning, a glowing orange moon at 03.47am, and yes, reader, I was there, awed.
The level of precision and maths required differ, but these are predictable events in the natural world. In management, prediction is the science which gives the greatest opportunity to create value for money.
Plausibility is quite different. All it takes is the Prime Minister’s notion that patients might want to see a GP at the weekend. I was at two events last week where speakers described their experiences of 7 day GP services, ie weekend shifts. Some are proud to have their “utilisation” up to 50% (ie half the slots are empty), others haven’t managed this much yet but are advertising heavily to persuade patients to come.
These are the same patients who struggle daily at 8am or wait weeks to see their own GP, and the same GPs who complain they are drowning in workload.
But in these schemes GPs are paid at twice the average rate to see half the volume of patients. Pulse reports that nearly half of them have cut hours due to lack of demand. Never mind the positive patient feedback, no sane, disinterested observer could call this a success.
It would be churlish of me to point to the lack of evidence for 7 day opening, which I highlighted two years ago. It would be silly of me to suggest that stuffing £10 notes down drain holes would be a less bureaucratic way to get rid of the money. Churlish and silly me.
We take the science of understanding and predicting demand very seriously, and for that reason it’s the top theme in our poster presented at last week’s RCGP conference. It shows that when patients can seek help from their own GP 24/7, online, the pattern is very close both to the days and hours they are normally open. Aha.
Based on evidence, now easier than ever to collect with online access, demand is predictable by week, by day, even by hour. Good for patients, good for GPs, and good for taxpayers.
And the rugby? I confidently predict that someone will win.
Founder, Chief Executive
GP Access Ltd
PS Next week, our second poster at RCGP with more on the clinical benefits of online history taking.