Effective Patient Encounters

PMA (formerly Practice Managers Association)
Delivery Method: Virtual

Overview: The key objective of engaging the patients and signposting is to help patients access the right care at the earliest opportunity. It is a new system of ‘triage‘, carried out at the first point of contact with the GP Practice by non-clinical staff under direction of the clinical team.

There are numerous drivers for this patient centred approach and outcomes will include a more streamlined GP workload, improving efficiencies in terms of access to services and patient satisfaction. It will achieve this by releasing valuable GP time and resources. Staff will actively manage requests for GP appointments and safely redirect inappropriate GP consultations to the most appropriate care provider.  

Objective:  Active Signposting is a tool to develop the skills and career paths of non- clinical staff.   Staff will move away from a passive role and have a more direct impact on patient health outcomes. The skills and abilities needed to undertake Active Signposting are valuable in other new non-traditional roles such as Document Management, HCA and Care Navigation. After training staff will be confident in advising and referring patients to care providers who work either within the practice team or to external care providers.

Active signposting and care navigation can present a challenging cultural shift for some teams – and we will explore the mechanisms to help make the changes as smooth as possible – some of this will build on the existing understanding, within the practice, of the need to change and a realisation of benefits these changes can have.

Successful and safe signposting and patient engagement is reliant on 3 core principles:

  1. Robust agreed protocols.
  2. A full commitment from the whole team to support staff in delivering Active Signposting.
  3. Continuing audit of activity and outcomes including complaints and significant or serious incidents.

Training Recommendations, all staff wishing to be considered for Active Signposting/ Care Navigation:

  • Should be experienced GP Practice staff and understand the course outcomes.
  • Should have attended ‘Medical terminology’ training.
  • Should attend the full Patient Engagement training and understand that their work will be audited and monitored back in the practice.
  • Practices must understand that implementation must be continually monitored, audited and significant or critical events reported to appropriate bodies.


Session One

Welcome & Introductions

Learning Outcomes

  • Skills and confidence to deliver signposting
  • Understanding what signposting is for
  • Benefits to patients
  • Benefits to the practice
  • Using protocols
  • New consultation types
  • Receptionist role in engaging the patient
  • Communication with the patient
  • Patient safety

Introduction to Signposting & Navigation

This session will introduce why engaging the patient to enable access to Right person, right place, right time’? Signposting is now a recognised tool to meet demand on GP time and how it can increase access. Discussion will explore the benefits, risks and limits of the approach. 

How are you feeling?

  • Thoughts from a patient’s perspective
  • Thoughts from a Receptionists perspective

How will the Receptionists role change with signposting and navigating…

Sources of help receptionists will refer patients to, including: 

  • How to make referrals to allied healthcare professionals and other internal and external clinical team members e.g., physician associates, paramedics etc
  • Understand the new roles under the ARRs scheme and how to engage them
  • ARRS
  • 111/OOH
  • CPCS pathways
  • Criteria for developing a useful practice directory

Group Work & Practical Session

Typical scenarios found in GP Practices and will be an opportunity for participants to develop new techniques to deal with enhanced patient interactions. Emphasis will be on developing confident communication skills, with all participants having the opportunity to practice these new skills.

Q&A Summary


Session Two

Learning Outcomes

Processes for Keeping patients safe

  • Introduce, explore and discuss methods of how patient safety is maintained.
  • Introduction to protocols and how to use them…
  • The continuing importance of Confidentiality in the Patient Engagement process
  • From staff point of view
  • From patient point of view
  • The importance of Record-keeping
  • New consultation types
  • Telephone triage
  • Online consultation
  • Group consultation

Communicating the changes to patients  

Achieving effective and persuasive communication through traditional and online channels

  • Effective messaging for patients 
  • Coordinating Websites / Facebook / Telephone messaging
  • Econsult – who can be redirected
  • What’s suitable for telephone appointments
  • online consult
  • Accurx
  • Ardens

Using and developing the Directory of Service

Monitoring patient engagement, Signposting and Navigation successfully in practice

  • What does success look like?
  • How to monitor
  • How to communicate the success

Next Steps - Formulate an Action Plan

Review of Learning Objectives & Concerns Identified

Q&A – Summary


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