Remote Monitoring Pilot in General Practice

7th March 2024

With demand for services increasing, General Practices in England are facing a widening gap between patient demand and the capacity available to meet it. Finding new ways to deliver care effectively and free up clinicians from administrative processes, is vital.

In a pilot to help free up capacity, Health Innovation North East North Cumbria (HI NENC) is leading a project that tests the use of remote monitoring technology in five GP practices, across the region.

Find out more about how this is working in practice from Kris Drummond, Team Lead at Teams Medical Practice in Gateshead, within this blog. Kris’ practice is now piloting new pathways for patients with urinary tract infection symptoms and patients who request contraception.

Identifying opportunities for change

I was invited to a discovery day at the Crowne Plaza in July 2023. I was due to be on annual leave at the time of the event but they were offering a free lunch in a posh hotel so I agreed to go! At the event, I worked with the GP registrar who was attending from my practice, to map several clinical pathways to patient journeys. We aimed to identify some of the most frequently used pathways that would have the greatest impact if improved. We worked together to make the patient’s journey simpler and quicker, with the option of remote appointments where possible.

As the morning progressed, I began to understand what we were doing and why. By replacing in-person appointments with remote ones where appropriate, we could save a huge amount of valuable appointment time. I left the discovery day with tonnes of notes and could not wait to get the project started.

Getting the project started

When back in surgery, we set about changing how patients with urinary tract infection symptoms and patients who requested contraception were handled. A clinician designed a pathway that enabled the administration team to gather as much information as possible with the patient before presenting to a GP. I then created a guide in our clinical system to help the admin team with the new changes.I thought this new process was great. It’s really going to help us in surgery with access and improve how we work. It hadn’t even crossed my mind that the rest of the team would examine the process as if I were doing a pitch on Dragons Den! It was picked apart and it was questioned. Even Deborah Meaden would have been proud of this lot!

Problem-solving and results

On the first day of working with the new processes, I was excited to see how it would go. I could hear staff around the office using the pathways and explaining to patients that they don’t need to see a GP. We were encountering very few problems until a patient made contact to explain that she had contacted the surgery the day before about a UTI and had not heard anything since she called.

What’s gone on here? Deerstalker hat on and magnifying glass out, we investigated. It turned out that how the patient was brought to the Duty Doctor’s attention varied depending on the nurse who tested the sample. We had to fix this. We decided that when a patient first made contact, it would be at this point that the patient was placed on an afternoon duty list for the GP to contact. This meant that no patient would be missed if they did not complete the survey or hand in a sample.

For just the UTI pathway, by implementing these new changes we have saved approximately 29 15-minute appointments a month. If this is multiplied throughout the year, we could be freeing up 12 full days of vital GP appointments for just one practice.

This discovery day that I attended and knew nothing about has kicked off something bigger. I am now working on a triage tool to signpost patients more efficiently when they contact the surgery about 73 medical conditions.

See what happens when you offer a free lunch!


To find out more about the remote monitoring programme, visit the HI NENC website. You can also read the first blog in this series from Kay Brydon, Business Change and Benefits Lead at NECS, who introduces the project and explains how she is supporting practices to manage the changes to their clinical pathways.

If your organisation would like to find out more about how we could help you to rapidly discover innovative solutions or to access our Innovation Design Service please contact Sarah Rendall.