Single point of access

By Oliver Cowmeadow

As a healthcare company, we feel it is our duty to support the NHS in any way possible. We do this through our community-based healthcare services, but also through our single point of access pathways.

What is a single point of access?

Simply put, a single point of access is when we are commissioned by the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to organise patient referrals and determine the appropriate course of treatment; this is called triaging. For example, in Nottingham we run a single point of access for ophthalmology and review all referrals before directing patients onto the correct care pathway. We receive referrals for patients presenting conditions that are suitable for treatment within our community service. Some patients, on the other hand, are determined to present conditions best suited to the care administered by an alternative provider (i.e. the local hospital) and we will onward refer these patients as appropriate following review of their referral.

The benefits of single point of access

We use single point of access for triaging referrals, creating many benefits for the local community. This means that local NHS services do not have to triage as we do this for them using our own clinical experts. With this, clinicians and nurses have more time to deliver quality, face-to-face care to patients. A single point of access provides one location for GP referrals to be sent to, decreasing the chances of confusion, reducing the number of patients directed onto inappropriate care pathways and improving the efficiency of the GP. GPs should still refer directly to secondary care if red flag symptoms are suspected.

A single point of access allows us to direct patient referrals to the right place, first time. Fewer incorrect referrals will lead to a more accurate healthcare service, streamlining efficiency when delivering patient appointments on time. With our multi-disciplinary triaging team, we are able to cover all operational corners of the healthcare system within the area, whether this be a local practice, hospital or GP group, providing a unitary network that links all different levels of care. Through this united access, we ensure smooth communication when it comes to sorting patient data, leaving ‘you’ with an efficient service that delivers on time.

Hospitals are often overloaded with miscommunicated referrals. Sometimes, these involve patients with less-severe conditions being referred to hospitals instead of a more appropriate community service and in such instances, the hospital is required to cover a larger number of patients which could otherwise be directed more efficiently. With our single point of access, we oversee referral destinations after triage and are therefore able to ensure that non-severe referrals are being seen in the correct place instead of in hospitals. This leaves hospitals to focus on severe and urgent conditions that cannot be treated within local practices.

Single point of access ensures safe and efficient processing of referrals to the benefit of patients and healthcare professionals.

By providing a single point of access for referrals, we can extract data that can be used to help improve services across the community. For example, we can measure the amount of gynaecology referrals and any increases of treatment type in a specific area. We can navigate improvements accordingly through identifying local patient needs identified in our trend analysis, or inform relevant services, such as hospitals, on this data and how best they could approach dealing with trends in the future. Ultimately, this improves provider insight into healthcare and this analysis is just one of the ways we help support the CCG in the delivery of safe and quality patient care .

Moving forward

HealthHarmonie has an innate passion to diversify and expand our services to help the NHS wherever possible. We are continually developing our approaches to our single point of access and, in the future, we aim to work with other CCGs to implement this innovation so that we can further support the country’s healthcare services by streamlining efficiency of referral organisation and interlinking multiple levels of care into one unitary system.

If you have any questions about our services or our single point of access innovation, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0121 454 7779 or via our ‘contact us’ page.

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