The GPnetworks story so far

GPnetworks: How a simple idea changed the face of locum GP procurement in its own back-yard and how something saving approximately half a million pounds a year is a failure.

Author: Joe Aliferis

A few years ago, a friend of mine, a locum GP, asked me if I could design a web application that could allow locum GPs to share their availability to work with their potential employers – at the time, mostly Primary care practices.

I instinctively said yes as I knew if must be possible but then had to go away a think it through. A few months later, the first release of GPnetworks was born. This was back in 2004 – before Facebook and the explosion of social media. It was primitive but, compared to anything else out there at the time, it was revolutionary. A professional network that matched locums to the requirements of employers, in an elegant way. It saved time and money.

Myself and my friend quickly started the company up then won some local contracts from PCTs to supply it. In a matter of a few months, hundreds of GPs and practices were using it every day – saving time and money. We had created a system with a User Interface that was easy enough for non-techie folks to use but that delivered business functionality sophisticated enough to end their dependency on agencies – in our area at least.

Within a couple of years we had gained a few more PCT contracts are were delivering our solution to a network from Chichester to Eastbourne and into South London. We had a simple business model – a PCT procured the system for its entire area at a fixed annual fee and we rolled it out to all practices and locum GPs in that area.

By 2007 our system got its first major update – the key part of this was geolocating. We switched from matching people in groups, by notional geographical zones (PCT areas) to matching everyone, individually to everyone else, by distance. Or, to put it more succinctly, by proximity to each other. At this point we had a truly effective system capable of creating the most effective sharing of human resources possible within its scope. We had also built a full booking and scheduling system on top of our initial availability system, providing an end-to-end service. All we had to do now was expand the scope.

Then things changed…

Funding for the NHS began to be squeezed in all areas and soon our PCT funding dried up. It became known that PCTs were to be replaced by CCGs. We knew that our business model would no longer work so we set out to modify our system so that we could build individual relationships with each practice using our system.

Over the next couple of years, as PCT contracts were not renewed, we managed to convert almost all our practice customers to a direct relationship with us using a simple subscription model. This meant that they paid us directly an annual fee for unlimited use and support. However, the real long term effect of the change within the NHS and our subsequent change to a subscription model has been that we have been unable to grow over the last 6 years. Simply put, our business model does not work.

Today, GPnetworks is used frequently by its loyal customers and highly regarded by those that make use of it. On average it handles over 3000 user account logins a month from around 500 users. It sends out over 2200 work requests a month and schedules around 1200 confirmed work placements a month for locum GPs. It also helps to place many GPs into salaried posts, long term cover and partnerships via its sibling Salaried Jobs System. A free service for its subscribers.

The irony is that, were our system to be scaled up, were it to be rolled out over a wider area, it would become even more effective and could be saving many millions of pounds within Primary Care!

This is a bitter sweet effect for myself and my partner. On the one hand we had created something transformative, we had made it work, we had proved it could save time and money. On the other hand, we have so far failed to realise the full potential of our innovation. It sits in a small corner of the UK, a big success in its own back-garden, relatively unknown everywhere else.

Anyone got any ideas ?

Update: in March 2017, we released the third major update of our system. The innovation continues. For the full details of how GPnetworks works, who uses it, who could use it and how much could be saved, please drop me a message/connect.

www.gpnetworks.co.uk

joe@gpnetworks.co.uk

LinkedIn

Requesting GPnetworks in your area

If you live in a part of the UK where GPnetworks does NOT currently operate, not to worry – together, we can get our network and the accompanying web-based system up and running in no time.

AND there are big benefits for any practice or group of practices that help to establish GPnetworks in their area!

At this time an annual subscription to the GPnetworks system is £150 – for unlimited use. This means find/request/book as many locums as you like for as many sessions as you like, at no extra cost. Deal directly with the GPs and pay only their hourly/daily rates and no more on top!

Any practice helping to establish GPnetworks in a new area is eligible for a full years FREE subscription! This is also true for groups of practices.

This offer means that it is risk free for practices to setup and trial GPnetworks in their area.

The key to creating a network in your area is to have more than 15 practices registering at the same time.

Get in touch now to talk to us about starting GPnetworks in your area

Understand how T&Cs are handled in GPnetworks

A GP uploads their T&C’s to their profile

When a practice requests a GP via the system, and the GPs accepts the request, the T&C’s are attached to the email notification to the practice.

Note, an acceptance is not a confirmed session – the practice still has the option to confirm or cancel accepted requests. this means the practice can review those T&Cs before confirming a session

hope this clears it up

Unraveling the logic of the request process

On this support system, other articles deal with the basic logic of the request process.

This Q&A looks at the issues of cancellation and first come first served when booking sessions.

Question:
For example, on 29th I accepted a request from practice A in the morning and practice B in the afternoon. But I had also been requested by practice C for the whole day.
When I accept the requests from practice A and B, does practice C automatically get sent a message declining them? (As at this point their request disappears from my GP Networks).

Answer:
Almost. The logic outlined above is true but relates to when session requests that you have accepted are Confirmed by a practice – this is when a session becomes effectively locked and disappears for all other employers availability calendars

At this point another practice cannot request you or a practice with an outstanding request will get a declined notification and be unable to continue with the booking process with you for that session

GP professional documents

GPs store many of their important professional documents within their Profiles. You can view these any time by visiting a GP Profile (click a GP name in your calendar)

As well as this, when you book a GP via the system, the conformation email will contain links to the GPs important documents, for you to download

Near the foot of the Confirmation email, you will see something like this:

————————————————————————————————————-

To contact this GP please use the following contact details:

Telephone: 02081338636
Email: joealiferis@doctors.org.uk

GMC no: 123456789

You can view his or her terms and conditions here: Download
Medical Defence Certificate Document: Download
GMC Registration Document: Download
Performers List Letter Of Confirmation Document: Download