As the NHS braces itself for a flood of coronavirus cases, one group of GP practices is aiming to ease the current workload by becoming the first in the UK to use an online triage system, driven by artificial intelligence technology.
Haxby Group, which manages 11 GP surgeries, has switched to the Klinik Access system following successful trials at two practices in York.
Patients using the system, currently installed at over 400 healthcare centres in Finland, are directed from the practice’s website. They provide indications of their symptoms online, answering questions to feed into a medical AI algorithm and triage process, which then goes to the Haxby Group’s urgent care team.
Klinik Access provides support for doctors in making a diagnosis and sends requests to the team who can decide on the urgency of a case and how it should be treated. Doctors can then review patients’ enquiries and call them back on the same day with a plan of care, or to arrange a face-to-face review for those who need it.
Dr Thomas Patel-Campbell, GP partner and chief clinical information officer for the Haxby Group, said: “Many requests are simply too nuanced for the administrative teams to manage over the phone. For instance, paramedic and physio background members of the team are qualified to select who needs to see them, but a non-clinical receptionist can’t do that.”
The process involves security questions to ensure a patient is registered with the practice, and they can request an appointment if they think it is necessary.
Klinik Healthcare Solutions UK director of operations and sales Ben Wood said: “From a GP’s point of view it helps them get to see the people who really need to see them. And patients are generally happy as long as they get advice and care from a GP or nurse.”
Klinik Healthcare claims that two months after the system was introduced to two York surgeries it accounted for 24% of weekly online queries and that 86% of patients rated it as good or excellent.
Wood added: “We believe that tools like optimal triage systems that improve patient management and accurate data accumulation for future planning are paramount to primary care services.”