Work smarter not harder


On behalf of Network Locum (now Lantum), Dr Ishani Patel writes a series of Case Studies and articles for fellow GPs.


‘Work smarter not harder’


I heard this phrase the other day from two sources – a fitness instructor and the assistant practice manager. It got me thinking about how efficient we all are and what can we do to optimise our productivity without compromising the positive energy we should be emitting to our colleagues and patients.

In researching this concept I stumbled across a term known as productive general practice. There is growing pressure for general practices to continue to deliver high quality care, while meeting increasing levels of demand and diverse expectations. At the same time financial resources are being reduced, requiring practices to stretch their resources to maximum capacity.

General practice is more than assessing, diagnosing, managing, safety-netting and reassuring’s also about customer service and using resources effectively and appropriately. Is there online access for booking appointments and renewing prescriptions? Is there a clinician who can operate a telephone triage system to ensure patients are seen by the relevant GP or nurse? How are normal test results communicated to patients? Can we operate more telephone consultations or handle queries via e-mail?  Is there a dedicated receptionist per GP colleague who can support administration responsibilities?

A cluster of practices took part in a ‘Productive General Practice’ pilot - some of the benefits experienced by practices testing the programme included:

  • Extra nursing capacity identified, worth >£11,000
  • Time taken to retrieve prescriptions requests reduced by 82%, releasing 12.5 hours of staff time per week.
  • Turnaround time for medical reports reduced by 43%.
  • 57% reduction in blood test resource costs.
  • 82% reduction in nurse sickness and absence.
  • More accurate staff planning, avoiding £15,000 of planned staff expenditure year-on-year.

I urge you to reflect on how ‘smart’ you work.... and perhaps to take the lead in making change happen in your surgeries so that time is released for yourself and colleagues, in order that the right patients get through the door and allowing you to reinvest time on other opportunities that enhance your practise and your practice!



1) Productive General Practice, Management in Practice Issue 32, Spring 2013



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