Thank you to those patients who completed our questionnaires on Results Handling in 2017 and 2018. These questionnaires were part of a patient safety project on making results handing safer, which we have now concluded. We would now like to share some of our results. We have taken the questions asked in the survey and below we try to respond to the most common or interesting comments we received.
1. What are your views on the ease of the appointment booking process to get your blood taken?
- Generally people found making an appointment for a blood test to be easy
- There were comments regarding being able to book an appointment online
Unfortunately we are unable to offer this facility at the present time but this will definitely come in the future.
- There were requests to have blood taken at the time of the GP appointment rather than coming back to see a nurse a different day
Unfortunately the GP appointment does not allow sufficient time for this, however, if there is an urgency to obtaining blood e.g. you are acutely unwell, the GP will likely take your blood. All routine blood tests need to be taken by our nursing/phlebotomy team.
- There was a request to be able to book further ahead for a test
To manage supply and demand we used to only open up appointments 2-3 weeks ahead of time. Recently it was agreed to open up appointments 4 weeks ahead which will allow a little more flexibility.
2. Was the Practice policy on test results explained to you when the blood was taken?
- 30.6% advised they had not been told the Practice policy on test results.
As a result of this we have produced a small laminated patient information leaflet that can be read while having a blood test taken. As well as that we have created a new page on the website about test results, and some of that information is going up on the waiting room display screen and in the summer 2018 Practice newsletter.
3. Are you happy with the Practice’s method of handling test results?
- 21.3% advised they were not happy with this method of results handling.
- The main points raised were patients would like to know results regardless of whether normal or abnormal and there were concerns that if you did not hear about the result how would you know the result hadn’t been lost?
Hopefully through further education and information sharing on our Results Policy we will be able to highlight that you are still very welcome to call the Practice after 2pm to enquire about your results if you have not heard from us or if you are just keen to know. The majority of test results should be back with the Practice within a week of the sample being taken, but you should be told if your particular test will take longer.
4. What matters most to you when you have a blood test and receiving results?
- • The most common comments were about knowing what the results are, that abnormal results are communicated promptly, easier access to results, being easy to get results by phone and having an explanation of any abnormal results
We try to ensure any abnormal results will be communicated within a week of the test being taken, however, there are a few tests that take longer to come back from the laboratory.
We have ‘talk time;’ between 10.40 and 11am every morning Monday to Friday for patients to discuss any concerns re results with the GPs.
We accept that some patients want to know their results whether good or bad and we encourage you to call a week after having the tests after 2pm.
- There were also comments about the timing of appointments to get blood drawn not being available later in the day.
Our last van to transport samples to the laboratory is at 3pm so we do need to have any appointments for tests before this time.
5. Any other views, or suggestions for improvement on the process of having a blood test and receiving results?
- Generally people seem pleased with our system.
- There were a few comments suggesting the use of a confirmation email with results or a text with result.
Unfortunately we do not have the capacity to provide a texting or email service for results. There is no approved software that would do this automatically meaning it would have to be done manually for each result. With the quantity of tests that we request in a month the amount of work that this would generate is beyond our current capability.
There is also the added obstacle of data security and confidentiality, which would make a system like even more complicated to manage.
- There were also suggestions for an information sheet related to blood tests and results might be helpful.
We have produced a small patient information sheet that can be read while having your blood taken. This explains our policy and process for receiving your results. We will also share this information via our website, waiting room screen and Practice newsletter.
6. Would you access your test results electronically if such a system was available?
- 85.2% of patients said yes.
While the technology to be able to be able to offer some kind of online portal for results does exist, and something similar to this is available to patients with diabetes and some renal conditions, there is currently no large scale system in place, compatible with the software used within NHS Lothian, that will do this job.
This question was added to gauge potential popularity of a system like this that could be communicated to the appropriate parties to aim for a future online results system for our patients.