Friday, 12 July 2013

Does Health Screening have a role in General Practice today?

Most GPs have a strong belief in preventative health but the practice is often a time poor environment. From the doctor’s point of view, the root causes of many illnesses such as diet and exercise take too long to address.

Whilst providing written feedback on all results is desired, the work schedule simply doesn’t allow it. Time spent writing reports is an administrative and costly chore that nobody enjoys and this time is far better spent with patients. 

With the right tools, set-up and discipline, health screening can be an additional high value service to add to your practice without it eating your time. It can create a new revenue stream with good margins and attract new private clients. If something is picked up, these clients are likely to become patients with repeat visits to your practice.  A good set-up means having the process entirely nurse led and the patient doing more of the work in advance.

Here are 10 steps that outline the basics for running a health screening operation:
  1. Schedule specific monthly dates for your health screening service, it may only be one to two mornings per month.
  2. Contract one of your trusted nurses to lead the screening programme.
  3.  Decide what screening products you are offering. The combination of Height, Weight & BMI, Blood Pressure, Cholesterol, Fasting Glucose is a basic offering. Adding Resting Electrocardiogram, Lung Function Test, Kidney Function Test, Liver Function Test, and Full Blood Count is a more premium profile.
  4.   Create awareness. Decide the most appropriate way to promote your new health check service. It may include posters in your practice waiting room, a message on your prescription pads and awareness campaigns aimed at specific age groups.
  5. Take bookings and encourage your patients to book online, this reduces your admin time.
  6. Encourage patients to complete their questionnaire online, this reduces time required with the nurse, which is the major variable cost in running a health screening.
  7. Optimise your resources, perhaps there is a room that can be made available for the nurse on the set days e.g. when a doctor is out on call or off.
  8. As the GP you can set a specific time, for example 8 days post screening appointments to review and approve reports and to call any high priority cases.
  9. Enable your patients to download their own screening report securely, this reduces admin and printing costs. Hard copy reports cost money but can also be provided.
  10. Schedule times for follow-up consultations which should close out very quickly as the patient will have reviewed their report in advance.
Dr. Ann Shortt, Founder and Medical Director

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