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Our conversion to virtual action learning for digitally upskilling primary care clinicians has gone

So with the pressures from the COVID pandemic for general practice teams to rapidly convert as far as possible to delivering usual patient care remotely our revised action learning programme aimed to normalise the use of digital technology and drive digital primary care transformation. We’ve always said this will reduce stress and the workload on an increasingly overstretched general practice service. And now clinicians and NHS managers are listening to us & wanting to take part – hurray!

We’ve just finished delivering these action learning sets for the four cohorts, with 50 or so GPs, advanced nurse practitioners, practice nurses and advanced paramedic, running from April -June 2020. Each clinician participant was required to attend two ‘virtual’ action learning set sessions, spaced four weeks apart, which showcased what is possible via digital delivery. They were given remote support between the sessions from Ann Hughes, the expert nurse digital facilitator, Ben McManus and Alex Rowley from Wavemaker, digital experts, and Rachel Hatfield, the national programme manager, to implement participants’ chosen modes of technology enabled care services.

There was a real focus on total triage and increased use of video-consultations to reduce the number of face to face consultations required; public and closed social media functionality to support patients with long term conditions and provide information and population health messaging to all patients; apps and much more.

Video-consultations were successfully introduced by many with active engagement from patients across all age groups and demographics. There was an example of a mum doing the glass test on a rash on her young child observed by the clinician who could see if it blanched.

AccuRx featured as a key driver in the implementation and adoption of digital tools in practices to link in other digital platforms (such as sending links to apps / signposting to relevant health and care information) and welcomed by patients.

WhatsApp was used for practice staff engagement to great effect across several practices– allowing everyone to keep up to date in the practice, following practice meetings or just for daily information. This reduced their isolation and SILO working.

Social media channels were used to share information about their practices – opening hours, new procedures etc as well as sharing health campaigns and population health messaging, allowing practices to stay in touch with their patient population.

So virtual action learning seems to be the way forward – especially as it was focussed on virtual delivery of patient care – and this will be our approach to digital upskilling in future of course! It’s obvious.


Dr Ruth Chambers

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