Exploring ways to streamline communication with GPs and hospital staff in an increasingly overwhelmed healthcare industry.

As the pressure put on healthcare services nationwide continues to grow, industry bodies have been more thoroughly exploring the reasons for this increasing strain.

One obvious reason is population growth. This has caused the standard workload for healthcare staff to increase immensely. However, the complexity of the work that is required from healthcare professionals has also increased. This is due to our ageing population. With an ageing population comes high numbers of comorbidities and long-term health conditions that must be managed by the care home staff in conjunction with GPs and allied health professionals. 

The Kings Fund confirms that the reasons for the strain on the healthcare system are multifaceted.

“The feelings of pressure in general practice could not solely be explained by an increase in volume of contacts…we examine the changing nature of the general practice workload and consider how patient, system and supply-side factors have further impacted this.”

Kings Fund research results

With GPs busier than ever, a care management system that is instantly accessible by approved third party medical professionals can make all the difference. This allows the GP to access comprehensive medical histories in a clear and efficient manner.

This can alleviate the pressure on GPs working with care homes in a number of ways.

First of all, the GP has access to a well-rounded view of the resident’s health history to enable them to treat residents. All of the resident’s documentation is available and accessible from a single file, providing instant access and ensuring no important care information is missed.

Secondly, the GP can enter notes directly into the system, eliminating the need to transfer data across healthcare systems, which can result in fragmented, incomplete records.

Finally, robust care management systems like AutumnCare will facilitate the documentation of vital observations. Care home staff, whether trained or not, are able to document vital observations following clear and concise directives from the system.

This means that between visits care home staff can keep the GP updated on the residents’ condition for monitoring purposes.

Maintaining detailed records about the resident’s condition means that the GP has a clear picture at the start of the consultation when a visit is required.

Hospital & Emergency Services

It is not only in general practice where healthcare staff are feeling the strain.

With continued funding cuts and under staffing, hospitals are also under growing pressure to deliver services. Older people are using many hospital beds, the admissions are often avoidable and people can find themselves staying in hospital much longer than is needed. This not only puts extra pressure on services, it is detrimental to the health of the older person.

Reducing the number of onward admissions from care homes is beneficial to the hospital as they are able to lower bed occupancy rates and relieve pressure on services that are struggling to cope. Reducing hospital admissions or the length of the stay when admission is unavoidable is vital to the health and well being of the resident. 

Higher levels of hospital and emergency admissions correlate with:

  • Higher morbidity rates
  • Chronic illness and disease
  • Risk of infection
  • General deterioration of health
  • Higher risk of admission following transfer back to the care home
  • Risk of inability for the older person to return to their home or residential care home

This occurs when the resident’s condition is considerably more severe by the end of their hospital stay.

The older person may be unable to return to their home due to a loss of independence or they may be required to leave the familiar staff and environment of their residential care home to receive the higher level of care they now require from a nursing home.

While there are of course, situations where hospital admission is the safest course of action, there are many instances where people can be managed with interventions put in place at the care home.

If a hospital admission is unavoidable, care home staff can relieve some of the pressure on the hospital and ensure a smooth transfer for their resident by providing comprehensive documentation. This ought to include the resident’s observations, care summary, care plans and medication information.