The 8 steps to becoming a digital GP
We recently wrapped up the 2022 edition of our 21st Century GP webinar series, designed to give guidance to newly qualified and First5 GPs as you start your GP career.
Our Digital GP session was led by Dr Hussain Gandhi, a six-session GP partner, GP trainer and PCN clinical director, and tech enthusiast. He walked through the steps to becoming a digital GP and gave valuable advice for thriving at all stages of your career.
In this summary article, we share the 8 steps to becoming a digital GP.
There are six different types of consultations, all appropriate for a variety of different settings:
While traditional face-to-face methods are still the most common, they’re not the best for all patients. Dr Gandhi highlighted that video consultations can be incredibly useful in dermatology or for rural patients, as well as care homes.
Knowing which type of consultation to use and helping patients navigate the process is crucial. Showing patients how to use new technologies will always improve their engagement — for example, teaching them how to share their sick note with their employer or taking clearer pictures for their doctor.
2. Med tech
Technology can make your job as a digital GP easier – but you don’t always need the most expensive products.
Dr Gandhi recommended using simple Bluetooth-enabled stethoscopes to enhance the quality of your sound and easily send recordings to another computer, a feature that’s useful in care homes when staff need to examine a patient remotely.
He also uses KardiaMobile for Atrial Fibrillation monitoring, which can pre-screen patients for AF and makes a world of difference in their quality of life.
There are also a lot of apps for general practice available — you can find some of Dr Gandhi's past recommendations here.
3. Standing desks
Sitting all day isn’t good for your health or posture, but neither is standing for long periods of time.
Standing desks are a great way to make sure you stay active and engaged. Whether it’s an adjustable desk or one with a treadmill underneath, it’s important to look after your wellbeing no matter where you’re working.
According to Parkinson’s Law, any task you have will expand to fit the timeframe given to it. When you’re scheduling work or meetings, consider cutting off a bit of time and trying to fit the task in. Often, says Dr Gandhi, you’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish.
Similarly, the Pareto Principle says that 20% of your work takes up 80% of your time. In a clinical setting, that means 20% of your patient list will generate the bulk of your work through long-term and chronic health conditions. Identify that 20% to streamline your workload and plan ahead.
Dr Gandhi recommends the Pomodoro technique for productivity, which helps him break up his workload into manageable chunks. Instead of consulting for three hours, he does 25 minutes and takes a quick, 5-minute break to refresh and reset for the next set of patients.
Other methods to prioritise workload include:
- Batching similar tasks together to get through them more quickly
- If the task takes more than two minutes, do it later when you can be more effective. If it takes less, do it right away
- Prioritising based on urgency and importance:
- If it’s not important, delegate
- If it’s not urgent or important, eliminate it
- If it’s not urgent, schedule a time to do it later
- Use a password management system for efficiency and security
5. Type faster
Having a comfortable keyboard that can handle macro commands saves you time.
Dr Gandhi recommends KeyQwik’s portable keyboard with 24 keys. Each key is a shortcut for clinical GPs that can help reduce your typing and get you to the next patient sooner.
If you’re not a fast typer (or even if you are), dictation can make taking notes and recording patient information easier.
While Google Docs does include dictation support, the free version automatically uploads to Google Cloud, which violates patient privacy laws.
Look out for dictation software like Crescendo that offers medical licensing that’s compatible with clinical work.
7. Social media
Google Business is especially important for practices because it helps patients find crucial information like websites, phone numbers, opening hours and services available.
Setting up a Google Business profile will give you data on how many people use the links to dial the practice. Dr Gandhi was able to point to a volume increase during a specific period of time using data for Google Business, which can help a practice make decisions about hours and services to offer.
Everyone learns in different ways, but it’s important to keep developing your skills throughout your career.
Podcasts are one of Dr Gandhi’s favourite ways to learn about new developments in healthcare, cutting-edge technology or just general knowledge. Many podcasts are also available as YouTube channels if you’d prefer to watch them.
Online learning and virtual conferences (like the 21st Century GP webinar series!) can also be great ways to connect with other GPs and learn more about the latest advancements in healthcare.
Building a strong foundation for a digital GP career
No doctor is an island, and a key GP skill is knowing how and when to expand your role and work with others.
“It’s really important to make sure you’re nurturing people around you to help with those workforce problems,” says Dr Gandhi. Roles like GP assistants can help practices structure their services and learn how to delegate.
Dr Ishani Patel, GP and clinical co-founder of Lantum, added that nurturing the talent around you and working with colleagues is an incredibly important part of being a good GP.
They both emphasised that throughout your career, it’s vital to keep building on learning for stronger skills and, ultimately, better patient outcomes.
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