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learning to thrive:

reflection | learning sessions

Online Consultation - Workload impact in the early stages of implementation

Primary Care Innovation Series


What to expect

Discussing what we have learned from teams who have successfully implemented online consultation in the last 16 months - focusing on where workload is impacted in Primary Care Teams.

The aim of this module is to equip teams with informed expectations of where the work will increase and decrease - and what teams may need to consider to succeed with achieving the benefits online consultation can offer.


Primary Care teams implementing online consultation often experience increases in workload. This can be discouraging and an early warning sign that the technology is going to stress the teams and fail to deliver on the promise of improving patient care.

In this video we discuss the problem with the generic term 'workload' and explore in more depth where in teams the workload is increased / decreased - looking at the tasks online consultation implementation impacts on and how it impacts differently for different roles within a team (managers, clinicians, admin). We focus on the experience during implementation, which can be drawn out - recognising that online consultation implementation is a whole system revision for many services.

Experiential learning

What is 'workload' impact - and how does online consultation implementation impact on it.

Relevant learning

Workload impact is not to be considered as a term that captures the differences in experience across a team.

Online consultation implementation will create increased workload, as the system is revised and staff are learning both the technology and new ways of working. Increases are often seen for managers and clinicians. Managers need time to support their team and the optimisation of online consultation to gain the benefits. This needs to be ringfenced time for them or a team project manager, to get through the changes required. Clinicians also need to work together and share experiences to enable them to update their clinical skills and find the balance between risk aversion and methodological working practices.

Workload reductions are seen early for admin, nursing (travel), repeat minor ailment appointments and sick note support. This may require some early optimisation - but quick returns are possible.

Teams benefit from change management support (project management, coaching, shared spaces, training) - which is available for all Devon practices via at no cost.

Reflection ideas

If you / your team feel resistant to online consultation, it can help to ask yourselves questions and reflect on your stance:

1. Are you fearful of the stress to your team if it goes wrong?
2. Do you believe that online consultation offers no advantages?
3. Are you confident your practice could survive the loss of staff (to illness / resignation)?
4. Are you mistaking the pain of implementation as the perceived failures of the technology?

5. How might you and your team benefit from project managers supporting your needs, coaching for your change leader and time spent meeting / discussing your beliefs / experiences with other practices?

Recommended Resources

Practice manager describing her triage model and the benefits of successful implementation to her practice -

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