How Footfall fits into surgery life


How Footfall fits into surgery life

With practices already busy dealing with patient requests and the everyday workload, we are often asked how FootFall fits in. How effective is it at freeing up precious resources? This month’s story is an interview with Ali Sayers an Administrator at Strawberry Hill Medical Centre on how FootFall impacts her day.


An Interview with Strawberry Hill Medical Centre

In April last year, Strawberry Hill was born from the merger of two Practices in Newbury who moved into new premises and became Strawberry Hill Medical Centre, catering for 21,500 patients.

On moving day itself, the new practice also switched across to using a FootFall website. Ali admits doing everything in one go was daunting but successful, and the assistance provided by the FootFall website has been an invaluable addition to the new practice.

“We do not do things by halves,” said Ali. “We decided that moving across to FootFall at the same time would work, and it did. We went with a FootFall site, because Silicon Practice already provided a website for one of the practices which came into the merger, and we were impressed by what FootFall could potentially offer.”

Ali is responsible for looking after patient requests that come via FootFall, which can number anything from a handful a day or 20 to 30 that arrive overnight.

But dealing with them is a speedy and simple process, and fits easily into Ali’s workload. Ali applies the same methodology that would be applied to a phone call: it is dealt with or referred onwards.

“I check FootFall first thing in the morning and then at intervals throughout the day,” said Ali. “Processing the enquiries that come in is straightforward. Probably about 70 per cent need to be referred up to a doctor and around 30 per cent I can deal with, and this doesn’t include the requests for repeat prescriptions which are dealt with by a colleague.

“The doctors say that they can process three or four FootFall enquiries in the time it takes to see a patient, so as well as channelling enquiries away from them, those that they deal with can be done quickly.”

The enquiries that need a doctor’s attention are forwarded on by Ali, via the practice’s internal clinical system.

When patients put an enquiry through, they receive an automated reply telling them they will receive a response within a set time frame. In practice, Ali is able to deal with most enquiries within the day. Indeed, sometimes she responds within minutes.

Patients say they appreciate the convenience of the service, which they can access at any time, and also the speed of the responses.

Ali said: “Our doctors are very good at mentioning the FootFall service to patients as a way of promoting it to them. Those who are already using it are extremely positive and tell the doctors they like it.”

So does Ali have any advice for fellow professionals who are launching, or considering launching, a FootFall website?

“We really love having FootFall, as you can tell. I’d just suggest people make the most of it and remember it can evolve,” she said. “Since we introduced FootFall we’ve added on asthma review forms, alcohol screening and smoking screening. This all saves us time and the patients appreciate not having to come into the surgery unnecessarily.

“Here in Newbury, we have a centralised maternity hub, which all pregnancies are referred to. So pregnant women can refer themselves via FootFall, to be contacted by a midwife. So, when you’re pregnant, you no longer need to visit the doctor first!”

If you would like more information about FootFall and the results that it is achieving for other Practices, please contact the team at Silicon Practice.

Flu Vaccinations: Tips to help boost your service this season


Flu Vaccinations: Tips to help boost your service this season

As flu vaccine targets have been increased for this year, now is a good time to promote your flu vaccination clinics. This has added impetus as there is now additional competition from other flu vaccine providers. To help you run a successful flu campaign online we’ve pulled together the following 7 tips which we hope will give you some ideas and inspiration when planning your online promotion.

Our hints and tips

  1. Sending text messages
    Using text messaging that includes a link to flu vaccine information on your website is becoming an increasingly popular way of getting a good response from patients. For instance, The Quarter Jack Surgery have sent out a text to their patients with a link to a flu form on their website inviting patients to book their flu appointment online. A similar approach has been adopted by Flitwick Surgery.
  2. Twitter campaign
    Many younger patients who fall into the clinical risk groups will engage with social media. If you are using social media as part of your online promotion, consider using popular culture references to engage different groups. An example is the above picture which references Game of Thrones.
  3. Promote positive aspects of your service
    Publicise the fact that your service is free. If you are also promoting health checks and advice that other providers don’t supply, put this in your message.  Try to avoid negative text about other providers, and instead positively explain the benefits of the service that your Practice provides.
  4. Publicise FAQ’s and myth-busters
    To encourage take up, directly address some of the myths surrounding flu vaccinations.  There are many examples online that you can utilise, such as NHS Choices.
  5. Use pictures and videos
    Incorporating pictures and videos in your messages will grab people’s attention, particularly if you are using Facebook and Twitter.
  6. Combine flu jab sessions with other events
    If you are planning to combine flu jab sessions with other events, such as talks or coffee mornings, publish this on your website. Use your Patient Group to help involve people and create news on your website or Twitter feed.
  7. Staff training
    Create a buzz internally and train your staff about your flu campaign so that any staff member can immediately answer patients’ questions. You can get help with your internal communication campaign from resources such as NHS Flu Fighter and get ideas such as videos that you can put on your website from the 2016 flu fighter award winners.
If you would like some help on promoting your flu campaigns on your website, please contact the team at Silicon Practice.

Low-down on Logos


Low-down on Logos

At Silicon Practice we’re often asked about logo design, so we have put together some tips to help you come up with a logo which looks as good on your signage and stationery as it does on your website and social media.


Our hints and tips

  1. Be clear on why you need a logo 
    Most organisations and businesses use a logo to communicate instantly what their business stands for and to differentiate themselves from the competition.In an NHS environment, where most patients go to their designated GP, competition with other practices isn’t normally the issue. In this setting, a logo’s purpose is usually to create a good first impression and deliver the message that you are a professional and trusted organisation. As a first step, talk to your team about the purpose of the logo. This will provide valuable information that will help drive the design process.
  2. Select your design
    Logo designs come in many forms. Most modern logos use merely the name of their organisation in a special font with no graphic.  Just think of Coca-Cola, NHS, Sainsbury’s, eBay, YouTube and Skype.  Nike does have a graphic, its famous swoosh, but this is so memorable and simple that even when you see it without the wording you know what it represents.
  3. Keep it simple
    The example of Nike brings us to the next point about the importance of simplicity. If you do intend to use a graphic, don’t try to tell a story in your logo.  Remember your logo needs to work on all mediums so it’s best to keep the number of shapes, lines and other design elements to a minimum to make the logo as distinct and clear as possible.
  4. Size
    Keeping your logo simple will help ensure it is scalable. For example, a logo should work on something the size of a postage stamp and on something as large as exterior signage.In this day and age more people are likely to see your logo online rather than on signage and correspondence.  This means that it needs to shrink to perhaps no more than 100 pixels high. This is why major brands stick to their name as their logo, using a special font, to ensure it is digital media-friendly.
  5. Shape
    If you layer your Practice’s name on top or around the icon in your logo, then your Practice’s name can be harder to read. And if you have text such as a strapline within the icon, it will be harder to see the icon, much less grasp what it means. Separating these two elements from one another will make them both easier to read and understand.
  6. Does that come in red?
    Colour is important. Use a colour that will evoke the right feelings and mood among those who see it. If a logo requires colour or special effects to make it a strong logo, then the chances are it’s not up to scratch.Modern designs tend to use simple colour palettes with one or maybe two colours. This is because the simple colour palettes actually create the sense of “more” colour. This reductionist method of design gives each individual colour the space to shine. Think of Asda, Marks and Spencer and Waitrose.View your chosen design in black and white first and add colour later. This allows you to focus on the shape and concept rather than the special effects. Avoid using shading on a logo. It looks dated and it doesn’t photocopy well.

We hope our hints and tips give you some useful ideas to start your logo design process.

To summarise you’ll find that you can spend a lot of time designing a graphic when in fact a good logo is often represented by special font.

And just one more mention of that iconic Nike swoosh. It was designed in 1971 by a student, who was paid $35. Founder Phil Knight said “I don’t love it, but it will grow on me”!

To chat further about logo design, or website design in general, please get in touch with the team atSilicon Practice.

Coming Soon! How to build excitement around your new website or new services


Coming Soon! How to build excitement around your new website or new services

Comparing the world of GP websites and the movie industry may be a stretch of the imagination, but believe it or not there are lessons to be drawn.

When the first trailer for Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace came out in 1998 it could only be seen by cinema-goers, shown on screen before they settled down to the main movie.

By the time the second trailer was released, Lucasfilm had teamed up with Apple to release it on Quicktime. That trailer became the biggest download event at the time, with 6.4 million downloads over three weeks. And, as we all know, Phantom Menace went on to become a box office phenomenon which kick started the new Star Wars series, fuelled in part by the anticipation that was built around it.

So what does this have to do with primary care?

We believe this idea of harnessing the power of online messages to create “teasers” for the main event is one that many organisations – GP practices included – can make use of.

The “coming soon” pages on your website, if used correctly, can make your audiences keen to find out about new services, such as physio services, new opening times or new staff who may be joining you with specialisms.

So here are our tips on making the most of your “coming soon” pages:

  1. Fortunately, just putting the words “coming soon” or “under construction” is largely a thing of the past. Instead, use the power of the web to give really positive messages. Use a few sentences by way of introduction. But keep it short – don’t give everything away all at once, otherwise there is no reason for patients to visit for the “big reveal”.
  2. Keep the “teaser” going. Add some more information a little at a time. That way you’ll help to build anticipation. It’s a tactic used to great effect by advertisers – you just need to take a leaf out of their book.
  3. If you use social media add a hashtag. Hashtags make people feel included, and in the know, and give your visitors the impression that people are talking about your new service.
  4. Finally, why not be even more proactive? You can use the coming soon pages to engage visitors. For example, you could issue an invitation to your patient group to help test your new website (if you’re having one).

“Coming soon” messages need not be the dull affairs that they once were. Go online to make an effective “trailer” for your new website or services. You may not be about to release Jurassic World but you can certainly avoid being a dinosaur about the potential of a “coming soon” page.

For more tips on making the most of your website, please get in touch with the team at Silicon Practice.

Online self-help: encouraging patient take-up


Online self-help: encouraging patient take-up

In last month’s newsletter we reported on the demand audit carried out by Hertfordshire-based Lea Valley Health. The exercise threw up some interesting findings, and just one which stuck out was how little patients were using online self-help or advice prior to making an appointment. Of those surveyed, just 2% used the surgery website to ‘self-help’ and a further 19% used other services, such as NHS 111.

It’s clear that the default position for 79% of patients surveyed was to go straight to the doctor. And it seems likely that this is reflected at practices across the country.

So how do you encourage patients to seek help first? Given how stretched practices are, the more you can pre-empt the tendency to go straight to the GP – without, of course, putting patients at risk – the better.

Five practical tips

This month, we will look five measures practices can take to guide patients towards trusted self-help before they make a phone call to the practice or make an appointment.

  1. Be succinct. Home in on just a few issues at any one time – subjects that are relevant to your patients, the things that they are phoning about. Avoid the temptation of putting in an exhaustive list of everything you can think of and creating a long-winded and off-putting A-Z of self-help.
  2. Be topical. Highlight features that are current to the time of year such as hay fever or travel in the summer; colds and flu in the winter. Taking the time to keep a content calendar can pay dividends.
  3. Concentrate on giving advice, write text that addresses your patients’ issues and make your copy clear and simple. People have a very limited attention span when reading online, so text that gets to the point and solves their issue, or gives them direction, will be the most effective.
  4. Structure the copy so it gives clear instructions. Focus on what the patient can do now, when they should seek medical help, and where can they go for advice. The move to mobile – with so many people accessing websites via smart phone or tablet – has only strengthened the argument for writing short, direct instructions.
  5. Measure the results. As a simple starting point, look at the analytics on your website to see what impact the content is having. You’ll soon know what does and doesn’t work and you can adjust your text where necessary.

These five simple steps taken together should not only increase the use of your website, but encourage patients to take a self-help route first.

And finally, educate your patients about the features of your website and how it can help them get their answers more quickly. Don’t make the website your practice’s best kept secret!