Social prescribing is more than just a buzz phrase. With around a fifth of GPs’ time being spent dealing with patients’ social problems – such as social isolation, housing, work, relationships and unemployment – social prescribing is going on within practices, whether or not it is their formal policy.
Back in 2013, research by the innovation charity Nesta and the Innovation Unit suggested GPs across the country were increasingly keen on the “more than medicine” approach of social prescribing, and in the last three years this interest has escalated. At Silicon Practice, we are often asked by our customers how FootFall or a GP website can help support practices to support social prescribing.
So in this month’s newsletter we explain the techniques that we offer which help GP practices to link patients with activities and groups in the community; activities and groups which will support their health and wellbeing and, ultimately, relieve pressure on GP Practices.
How Silicon Practice can help Practices implement their social prescribing policies
We can help practices with their social prescribing by supporting the practice policies on the website. Social prescribing policies are often implemented through signposting, self referrals and GP referrals. Our websites and FootFall sites can support all three approaches, and can structure the information in a way that is easy for patients to follow. This can become a useful resource for the practice staff too, lending clarity and definition to social prescribing in the practice.
Signposting: This is an information only service, where patients are made aware of services in the community. We can organise this into a directory, and make is searchable, and organise the information into easy to digest bite-sized chunks, with links to websites with further information.
Self-referral: Similar to signposting but can be used, for example, to arrange a face-to-face meeting. We can also include criteria so the patient can check that they are eligible for self-referral.
Practice Referral: We can include information on the services available, the criteria for referral, and who to contact for more information on referrals. We can also include online request forms to enable the patient to ask for a referral. The completed form is then forwarded by the system to the practice. For FootFall customers we can also forward the form to non-practice staff, such as to an outreach centre in the community.
This approach supports the current shift towards a “digital first” strategy, encouraging people to help themselves, rather than needing to ask someone where they can find the information they need. By providing information digitally we can speed up the process for both the patient and GP Surgery.
Just by adding this information onto your site, you can strengthen new partnerships with other organisations which can help relieve the pressure on the practice. An approach to social prescribing to help your patients and your practice.
If you would like help with adding the information to your site, please get in touch with the team here at Silicon Practice.