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‘It saves time when patients take on certain care tasks themselves’

February 2023 ● 5 mins reading time

By: Quin

From travel to banking and groceries, we are arranging more and more online. But when it comes to GP care, we still pick up the phone or physically visit the practice. Of course, good care is impossible without personal contact. Yet there are many things patients can also arrange themselves online. For doctor’s assistant Mayleen Schoenmaker, it’s obvious. At GP practice Westertoren in Amsterdam, she notices each and every day how digital tools are making her work easier and faster.

 You work with the Quin app, an online place where patients can manage a great deal of care themselves. How does that work?

‘It saves time when patients take on certain care tasks themselves. With the app, for example, patients can very easily order repeat prescriptions, which are then automatically processed in the system. But they can also use the chat function to communicate with us if they have questions or want to schedule a non-urgent appointment. We’ve noticed that patients have been using that more and more recently. And that’s nice because it means the phones are less busy. Our phone line generally used to ring off the hook, frequently because of questions that could also have been settled via a message. Those calls have reduced really substantially now.’

What difference does that make to your working day?

‘Before, of course, we were always phoned for appointments, repeat prescriptions and test results. But the chat function allows us to deal with those kinds of matters at our convenience. For example, when we have a time slot later in the morning, we open the app and start answering messages. This means we are less glued to the phone. Another advantage is that it also gives us more space for patients who need our help in the practice.’

If I understand correctly, a phone call to schedule an appointment takes five minutes, so if 50 appointments are made online, you easily save four hours. Do you indeed notice that the app saves time?

‘Certainly. That’s all moving in the right direction, also because patients can schedule a consultation with their GP themselves via the app. That option, by the way, is linked to the symptom checker. With this functionality, patients can check their symptoms online, after which they are advised on follow-up steps. If the symptom checker says they need to be seen, they can choose whether they want to speak to the GP physically or via video. So, we don’t need to make that appointment as assistants, yet there is a controlled inflow of patients this way. But even if patients don’t need a consultation, the app helps them on their way with things such as self-care advice and the option to ask questions via chat if they have any doubts. That gives our patients peace of mind, and it prevents them from still picking up the phone when they don’t need to.’

It saves you time, and it saves patients time as well. They don’t have to go all the way to the practice.

‘Exactly. I also notice that people who wouldn’t normally be so quick to go to the GP do make good use of the app. Especially young people, who seem to be a bit phone-shy, like being able to chat at times that suit them. We ourselves only respond on working days, but it already gives many patients peace of mind to know that their questions are with us and that they get a quick answer. I myself am a patient at a GP practice that is not yet so advanced digitally, and I would find it incredibly pleasant to be helped in this way. Say you have a mole and are a bit unsure whether you should visit your GP about it. Surely it would be handy if you could send a photo via a chat function so the GP could have a quick look at it? Not everyone needs to come in for a consultation, and this way we preserve enough time and space for the patients who really need to be seen.’

What do you expect for the future?

‘I like the fact that we’ve moved with the times. There’s also increasing demand for digital care, so it’s good that we’ve moved in this direction. In the practice itself, we also see this growth. Since our patients can schedule both physical and video consultations via the app, five per cent of all consultations are booked via that route, and we expect that percentage to increase significantly in the near future. The options to order repeat prescriptions and view medical records are also used hundreds of times a month. So, yes, I definitely see it as a positive development.’

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About Quin

Good, accessible healthcare, now and in the future, is essential. Quin contributes by supporting every step in the care process with digital tools. This gives professionals more space for patients and enables patients to take more control of their own health.