If this awful pandemic has taught us anything, it is that top-down solutions from the centre often magnify our challenges on the ground rather than solve them. Whilst I accept this is an unintended consequence of systems being developed on the hoof by those with good intentions and tight deadlines, it still frustrates me intensely.
An excellent example of this is the Pinnacle system for administering our Covid vaccines. Unlike the appointment system that has been developed for the campaign, the use of this system is mandatory. Yet I remain in total confusion as to why our own clinical systems could not have been developed in the same timeframe to support the vaccination campaign? Even a quick fix of uploading data from our clinical system into Pinnacle at the end of the day seems an eminently sensible idea. Is this being looked at?
For sure, the use of our own clinical systems may have been complex where practices are administering the jab for their PCN neighbours who perhaps are on a different clinical system. However, we are not all working like that. There are 5 partnerships within my PCN of just under 50,000 patients. We all use the same clinical system and we will all be vaccinating our own patients. We are sharing a venue but will all have our own sessions within the tight 3.5 day window. Whilst it is recognised that a set-up like this does not need another system for appointments, it should also have been appreciated that it does not need a separate system for the administration either.
Our major challenge is the premises we are working in. With just 4 consultation rooms, I spent the weeks up to Christmas (on top of everything else) sorting out Portacabins for patient waiting/observation areas. We do not have the space to have a separate admin area to start off the Pinnacle process before the patient gets to the clinician. We will not have the time for the clinician to complete it all. We clearly need to take the creation of the patient file in Pinnacle out of our critical path and do it in advance.
Armed with this brainwave, I attended a Pinnacle webinar and asked if this was possible via the chat facility. Numerous other attendees wanted an answer to the same question. Nothing was forthcoming. We were all on mute so we could not be heard. Two weeks later, I still have no answer.
I am tired of my profession being put on mute so we cannot be heard. This is the biggest problem of all. In fact, we are not even seen as a profession. With the creation of the Institute of General Practice Management, we have a golden opportunity to take ourselves off mute permanently. With the support of key stakeholders and friends such as the PMN and the NAPC, practice managers are creating an organisation for practice managers with representation throughout the country. Please help our profession by supporting this development however you can. Follow it on social media. Let’s start trying to influence things at the inception stage rather than at the post-launch webinar when we are all on mute!