Part of the NHS is using video to reduce the number of avoidable appointments with GPs. Receptionists point people to their YouTube channel for many routine issues that don't really need an appointment. Everyone wins. The patient and the GP.
by Simon Rigg
"I've made some films and want to know what you think of them" said the friendly GP to us.
"I just thought they may help stop people coming to the surgery when they don't need to".
We are the engagement and communications team for Better Care Together – a small group working across the 11 health and social care organisations working in the Morecambe Bay area. For those who don't immediately know where we are – we're in the north west - we have the ship building yards in Barrow-in-Furness, the beautiful Lake District, one of the best university towns in the country (source Sunday Times) in Lancaster......and Carnforth – the town made famous as the setting for the 1940s film Brief Encounter.
Carnforth is where the GPbased – and his films were filmed in the camera on his laptop – and he was talking at the desk on the spare room in his house – presumably after a very long in the day GP surgery.
But the advice was outstanding. He probably gives the same advice day in, day out – and I suspected - so does every other GP in the area, and in the country.
The thing is – with some complaints or illnesses– when you go to your GP, you will probably get the same advice – whether you are in Glasgow, Galway or Great Yarmouth. So why not put the advice into a three minute film and put it on the internet?
So we started a plan. We chose some of the common complaints that people go to their GPs with, went out with a camera to an empty clinic room, and started filming our GP talking – and then added in some cutaways of people being examined.
Common ones, we thought, are ear ache, nits, tension headaches – things people go to their GP with all the time, where the solution isn't a prescription, but rest, or over the counter medicines.
At first we were a bit clumsy, but we put a standard screenshot at the beginning and at the end – and sent them out to clinicians, patient groups and members of staff.
They liked them. There was a bit of feedback – which we tried to include, and we edited them to make them more watchable – and then we uploaded them to You Tube and sent out a press release and a few emails.
Over the weekend afterthe You Tube upload– the first four films received around 500 views – pretty good we thought.
The thing is – we weren't starting with the view of capturing the passing viewer – we didn't need a hook or a pull. The pull was – here is the advice you'll get from your GP – straight to your PC, phone or TV. You can get it when and where you want it.
So we sent the links to all the GP practices across the Morecambe Bay area. We tweeted links to them, and put them on Facebook. We asked the health partners to put the links on their websites. GPs started putting them on their waiting room TV screens.
The most popular one is ear ache – 807 views for that one film alone – which is a lot of earache that's hopefully gone away – and a lot of appointments avoided.
And we expanded. We've filmed some more – with a consultant paediatrician and with a different GP. We have 11 now – and have another five or six planned.
They've been watched 4,500 times plus now. Not all of those will stop a person going to their GP when they don't need to , but even if half of them have – even if a quarter have – that has freed up appointments for other people – people who have got to see their GP earlier – got into the system, earlier.
We're not saying its saved lives, but its definitely helped us make a difference to local health care.
The films are available from the Better Care Together You Tube Channel here.
Simon Rigg, communications and engagement manager, Better Care Together.
Picture credit: US Library of Congress / Flickr.