This article covers:


Demand management features

Patients tell us that they prefer eConsult to be available at all hours of the day as it provides them more flexibility in terms of when they can contact their practice. However, we know that GP practices work under increasing pressure and sometimes can’t manage all the incoming patient contacts they receive.

That’s why eConsult practices are able to customise the consultation submission element of the service:

Set consultation hours

  • Turn off eConsult until the next working day

  • Receive eConsults only during working hours (08:00 to 18:30, Monday to Friday)

  • Receive eConsults 24 hours a day (recommended setting)

Consultation hours options

Set consultation limits

Otherwise known as capping (this functionality is being released in versions, some of which are currently being piloted - as such it is not yet currently available to all practices):

  • Daily caps for all eConsults; practices can set different caps for each day, Monday to Sunday (version 1)

  • Exclude Long Term Condition templates and responses from patients from the cap (version 2)

  • Caps for specific consultation types, e.g. administrative vs clinical (version 3)

Consultation hours options

By default, eConsult is available to patients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with no limit on the number of eConsults patients can submit.

When the service is not available patients will still be able to access self-help content, but they will not be able to start a consultation questionnaire. If you would like to implement these changes, we recommend that you let your patients know the reason why they may not be able to access eConsult at all hours.

Register to get this for your practice

The demand management features are optional but need approval at CCG or Health Board level for practices that wish to use them.

If you have any questions about this or want to request the demand management features for your practice, email practice.support@econsult.health or get in touch with us using the live chat option in the lower right-hand corner of our help centre.


Accessing and changing your consultation hours

The demand management features are easy to use:

  1. Change your demand management settings: Using your demand management settings link, anyone in your practice can request a change from the available options. They need to supply their details for audit purposes. This automatically triggers an activation email.

  2. An activation email: The emails are always sent to the same practice email address that the eConsults are sent to. Our servers send the activation email within seconds, but delivery is dependent on NHS Mail, which is outside our control.

  3. Confirm to instantly update: Click the link in the activation email within 1 hour of requesting the change. The requested change is then instantly applied.

Accessing your demand management settings

You access your consultation hours settings through your practice's demand management settings link. This link is unique for your practice so you can bookmark or save it for easy access. It can also be found:

  • At the bottom of an eConsult submission email

  • At the bottom of your patient's eConsult submission

Changing your demand management settings

Once you have selected the demand management options you would like to activate for your practice, you will need to read and fill in your request details.

This page will then update to show a 'request in progress' message until the activation email has been confirmed. It will show you who requested the change and the details of that change:

The request will be sent to the email address where you normally receive eConsult patient PDF reports. Our servers send the activation email within seconds, but delivery is dependent on NHS Mail, which is outside our control.

You’ll need to verify this request by clicking the 'Activate change to eConsult demand' button in the email sent to you. It will need to be done within the time frame specified (within 1 hour of the request being made). If the request is not verified in time, then the change will no longer apply and you will need to request the change again.

You will not get a choice of when these new hours start, they will apply from the moment that the request is verified.

Once verified, eConsult submissions will switch to the chosen settings and the service will display the relevant national redirect message to patients outside of these hours (see 'Messaging for patients' section below).

Your demand management features settings page will change to reflect your new chosen settings. You can amend your consultation hours at any time by following the same process again.


Messaging for patients

The messaging shown to patients on your practice's eConsult page will vary depending on the setting you have chosen above. If there are alternative services that patients can be signposted to, these will also appear (and be appropriate based on geographies).

Weekday out of hours closure:

Weekend closure:

Temporary closure (message shown Monday - Thursday):

Temporary closure (message shown Friday):

Custom hours:


FAQs

What happens if my practice already closes eConsult at the weekend?

If your practice already switches off eConsult over the weekend but remains available overnight during the week and you would like to keep these hours, we recommend that you do not activate the 'in hours' feature. This feature allows you to restrict patient access to the consultation part of eConsult so that it is only available between 08:00 and 18:30, Monday to Friday.

What happens if I have already set my own eConsult access hours?

If you have already set your own eConsult hours, we recommend that you do not activate the 'in hours' feature. This feature allows you to restrict patient access to the consultation part of eConsult so that it is only available between 08:00 and 18:30, Monday to Friday. If you have already established access hours that differ from these, this feature would override your current hours.

How long will it take for the request to be activated?

This change is self-service, which means the eConsult team does not need to change any of your settings for you. Therefore, the change will be activated as soon as you verify your request. For example, if you action and verify the request by 18:00 on a Tuesday, the eConsult consultation service will stop being accessible for patients from 18:30 on Tuesday (30 minutes later).

Will patients who started an eConsult during working hours be able to finish their eConsult out of hours?

Any in-progress eConsults will be allowed to be completed and submitted to the practice - we don't stop patients if they have already started an eConsult submission during opening hours. Therefore, you may see a small number of eConsults received by the practice after 18:30 - these will be patients who had started their eConsult before the consultation part of the service became unavailable to them.

What happens on Bank Holidays?

Practices who have already asked for eConsult to be turned off during Bank Holidays won't need to do anything - the Bank Holiday will be considered as part of the weekend and as such, the consultation element of the platform would be turned back on the Tuesday morning after a Bank Holiday.


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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