We are optimising the use of online and video consultation and prescribing tools to care for primary care patients.

The need for effective digital pathways in primary care has been brought sharply into focus by the COVID-19 pandemic. Digital technology was implemented at speed and scale across general practice to reduce physical contact while maintaining interactions between patients and clinicians.

During the initial outbreak, we helped general practices across Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to integrate online and video consultation technologies into their operational systems. By the end of April 2020, every general practice in the South West was using video to consult with patients, compared to 5% before the pandemic. The number of practices using online consultation also increased from 60% to 80%.

During this next phase of COVID-19, our role is to support practices to optimise their use of digital care pathways whilst also supporting equity of access across our South West population.

This involves assessing how digital resources and systems are currently being utilised to identify different cases that we can spread across our practice community.

Electronic repeat dispensing (eRD)

We are working with our partners and GP practices to optimise the use of electronic repeat dispensing (eRD) in primary care.

In July 2020 we ran a series of webinars on eRD with the West of England Academic Health Science Network. These sessions featured examples of local best practice in eRD and sharing of resources to support those working in general practice, to benefit patients at a time of social distancing.

Over 100 representatives from primary care and 50 representatives from community pharmacy throughout the South West and West of England logged on to the live webinars, which you can now watch on our YouTube Channel.

Please get in touch if you would like further advice and resources to help improve your existing eRD service or are looking to implement an eRD service for the first time.

Patient information videos

We are supporting the spread of a patient video library, developed by Devon-based enterprise, Health and Care Innovations (HCI) , to enable trusts to continue delivering patient care in challenging operating environments.

The series of 600 videos is the largest collection of videos in the health and care sector in the UK. The videos provide a practical and easy-to-digest digital alternative to written information, and can be delivered remotely by NHS clinicians and accessed by patients and carers.

This year the library has been made available to all health and care settings in England under a new contract with NHSX. Read more here.

Spread Academy (Digital Primary Care)

This autumn we are partnering with NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group to run a virtual version of our popular Spread Academy, focused on digital primary care.

The academy will support teams in primary care across Devon, Somerset, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to prepare their digital innovations, approaches or solutions for spread and scale, including the optimisation of online and video consultation tools rapidly deployed during COVID-19.

Applications for this academy are now closed. Please keep an eye on our Spread Academy webpage for more details of upcoming academies.