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Shannondoc ­ A first for out-of-hours healthcare services
20th May 2015
Shannondoc is a GP co-operative, funded by the HSE that is providing an out of hours medical service to the population in the Mid West region since 2005. The call centre, which is based at St Camillus´ Hospital campus, processes all patient calls and provides a nurse led triage service with onward appointment, where necessary, to a GP at a treatment centre or at the patient´s home.

The Service operates out of 11 treatment centres spread across the Mid West region. In 2014, Shannondoc had 110,000 patient contacts with 90,000 people receiving treatment.

Increasing demand for the service has presented challenges on how to efficiently manage the expanding number of patient contacts while better coordinating the services to maximise patient flow.

Shannondoc´s I.T. system recorded all patient contacts electronically and tracked outcomes. However, it did not support this data being passed electronically to the GPs in the various centres. This resulted in information having to be faxed with doctors manually adding on their notes. In addition, GPs in the field had limited or no access to patient history. Although, all records were transcribed back into electronic format, this process resulted in the creation of in excess of 1.2 million hard copy records which needed secure storage. The IT system also only offered limited data analysis capability. Reports had to be manually generated which was time consuming and costly and was impacting on resource planning and development.

Mr. Mike Finucane was appointed as manager of Shannondoc in 2012 and, coming from an IT background, immediately saw the potential for a more robust, flexible and dynamic IT system to deliver greater efficiencies and greater business visibility to allow for real time planning and resourcing.

Mr. Finucane, on behalf of Shannondoc, partnered with the GP co-operative, SouthDoc, to scope out the IT project and develop the technical requirements for a bespoke system. This is the first system developed specifically for out-of-hours healthcare services. The new software was introduced into Shannondoc on a controlled and phased basis allowing for testing and validation. The system became fully operational across the Mid West in August 2014.

The new system has revolutionised the out of hours service offered by Shannondoc. Patient contacts are seamlessly processed electronically through the service from early triage to onward treatment in a designated centre or home visit. Patient profile, current symptoms and medical history are securely stored and can be instantly fed to a doctor´s mobile device improving treatment decisions and consequently patient outcomes. Additionally, all patient contacts are automatically sent to their specific GP and not the Practice, ensuring that records are up to date and providing for continuity of care as well as protecting patient data and confidentiality.

The implementation of the bespoke patient management system has enabled Shannondoc to offer patients a superior experience with minimal wait times and effective treatment and management of symptoms either at home or in a nearby Centre. This service can respond to 90% of all patient calls with only 10% needing onward referral to accident and emergency. A result which is welcomed by the HSE.

The data capture and analysis capability of the system will allow for better resource planning allowing Shannondoc to target its service delivery and respond to service needs. This will result in improved patient experience and better outcomes.

Minister Kathleen Lynch recently visited Shannondoc to learn more about the new system and the patient care being achieved as a result. Indeed, the new patient management system has attracted international attention with GP delegates travelling from New Zealand to see the system in operation.

Shannondoc, through this system, have demonstrated a low cost high quality approach in responding to modern day challenges.