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What we mean by a response to an eConsult

When a patient submits a clinical eConsult, we say they need a response by the end of the working day. One of the things we hear is that there’s some confusion about what we mean by ‘response’.

A response doesn’t mean you’ve resolved the problem that they consulted for. A response is an acknowledgement that you’ve received their eConsult and a short update on what to expect next.

You should review eConsults as they come in so that you can appropriately triage needs, helping more urgent patients quickly, but you don’t need to help every patient before the end of the next working day if they are safe to wait.

Many patients tell us that the best thing about their practice using eConsult is that they get a quick response letting them know what will happen next. It puts their mind at ease to know that the practice is working on it.

Clinical eConsults have a response time of 'the end of the next working day' by default whilst administrative eConsults have a 'within 3 working days' response time frame.

Response, not resolution.

What might some of these responses look like if they’re not ‘resolving’ the problem that the patient submitted an eConsult for?

  • Thank you for submitting your asthma review through eConsult. Our asthma nurse is in the practice on Tuesday and will get back to you about the next steps.

  • Thanks for your eConsult - we’ve reviewed your request and we’d like to ask some additional questions this week. The GP will call your mobile on Friday morning to discuss further (please note the number will show as private).

  • Thanks for your eConsult - a member of our team is trying to contact you as we’d like to see you in the surgery today. Please call us as soon as you can.

  • Thank you for your eConsult over the weekend. Please could you confirm if you still have the symptoms indicated? If you feel better, we will consider your eConsult to be resolved.


Different channels you can use to respond to patients

There are several options for responding to a patient's eConsult - which one you use may depend on the nature and urgency of the patient's request.

Email

We provide a free, one-way email response to patients to make it easier for you to manage your patients online once they start their journey online.

We’ve provided some common responses that you can edit or amend when you respond to patients via email, saving you time, but you can also create your own response from scratch. Patients aren’t able to respond to the one-way email that you send.

We’ve also worked closely with our partner, Healthinote, to enrich the information that you can send to patients via email. With our Healthinote search bar, you can search from a bank of trusted and reliable self-help information and videos, such as those provided by the NHS and HCI Digital, to send to patients.

Read more about responding to patients via email.

Read more about sending self-help information via Healthinote.

SMS (text message)

Sending your patient an SMS (text message) is perfect for patients who need a quick response that can fit in 160 characters. That’s the length of this paragraph.

These short messages are great for keeping patients up to date or asking them to do something quickly, such as completing a review questionnaire (asthma, contraception, blood pressure etc).

Read more about responding to patients via SMS.

Audio call (click to call telephony, through the internet)

You can now initiate a telephone call with your patient directly from your desktop. You can copy and paste in a patient’s telephone number from their eConsult or clinical record, but we’re also working to allow you to read telephone numbers directly from a patient’s record.

Soon you’ll also be able to call patients from your mobile phone, not your computer, using the same software. The patient won’t be able to see your phone number, so they can’t call you back directly.

Read more about responding to patients via audio call.

Video call

Our video consultation functionality is market-leading, allowing you to connect to your patients either via an app or through our web-based instant video platform, Q health.

You can choose to have either instant or scheduled consultations and have multiple people join the call, for example, if you need a translator to join. There’s also the ability to send and receive files and photos during your consultation, or send them a text with the directions to their nearest pharmacy during your call. We’re also developing the ability to switch between audio and a video call at any point during your consultation.

With easy to use functionality accessible via NHS single sign-on, crystal clear video quality and the ability to zoom and take a capture of the patient during your call, you’ll forget that you’re not in the same room with your patient. You can also quickly collect feedback from both patients and practice staff about their call experience.

Read more about responding to patients via video call.


If you have any questions or you feel that this article could be improved, please feel free to give us some feedback by emailing us, pressing the emojis below or using the chat button on the bottom right-hand side of this page to speak to one of the eConsult team.

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