With news of the 23/34 GP contract has also come one of the biggest shake ups in many a year to the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF).
First introduced back in the 1990s, the main objective of QOF was to drive quality of primary care and provide an indication of achievement through a points-based system. Now more than two decades on, some have begun to reflect on how successful QOF has been as a system thus far.
On the one hand, positives cited in regards to QOF include its ‘systemisation’ of care and fostering of greater collaboration for the management of chronic conditions. On the other, QOF has been seen as driving bureaucratisation, inflexibility and tendency towards ‘box ticking’.
Likely in response, and in recognition of increasing capacity pressures on general practice, QOF will now undergo a process of ‘streamlining’, the first stages of which have been detailed by NHS England for 23/24. With an overall reduction in indicators, this marks the first stage of a larger overhaul expected in the years to come.
In these ever-challenging times, we know how important it is for practices to be hitting as many of QOF targets as possible to support their income. Here, we look at 4 tips to gain QOF.
1) Think about seasonal QOF
There are various seasonal illnesses and conditions to focus on throughout the year to attain QOF target, from asthma in allergy seasons, to obesity and pre-diabetes over the festive period. In the winter months for example, practices start to see patients with symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and other mental health issues, which can be assigned to QOF codes.
When it comes to seasonal QOF campaigns, patient engagement is essential. Use all the tools you have at your disposal, whether it’s letters, SMS messaging or messaging within the NHS app.
For example in the case of flu vaccinations, many practices we work with choose to utilise SMS messaging in conjunction with their phone lines to communicate with patients. This means that once a patient message is sent, the practice can see who is calling regarding a particular text. This in turn allows the practice to allocate and add appropriate resource, so the team isn’t overstretched and there aren’t long waiting times for patients at the other end of the phone.
2) Treat QOF as mandatory
Despite being a voluntary programme, many practices running as sustainable businesses often treat QOF as mandatory – and they certainly think about hitting QOF targets in everyday practice life.
Successful and high performing practices ensure the whole practice team is aware of QOF’s importance, and embed it into the culture as much as possible.
Internal communication is key. Holding regular practice meetings to make sure everyone is aware of QOF targets, point allocations and their financial impact can get everyone involved and on the same page for the outset of the year.
Some other good habits include regular reminders, and thinking proactively about key indicators. For example, booking in patients for asthma checks ahead of time and regularly reviewing and updating patient records.
Monitor ongoing performance against targets and identify any areas where you may be falling short. Some steps to address these areas may include additional training for staff or implementing new systems or automated processes to drive improvement.
3) Look for QOF opportunities
GPs have been performing multiple examinations in a single appointment for many years. That’s nothing new. But this practise can also help to facilitate opportunistic gathering of QOF points.
If a patient comes for a specific issue, clinicians can check in on an ongoing condition whether it’s monitoring COPD or updating a patient’s asthma record. Of course, this approach is only appropriate if there is sufficient time, and the patient has no symptoms or concerns. In which case, a standalone appointment or review is always necessary.
Phone and video consultations can also provide opportunities. Clinicians can ask very straightforward, non-invasive questions such as a patient’s smoking status, which can then be added to the smoking QOF code in their notes. And there are other techniques to build a rapport with patients in these settings and identify other factors.
4) Utilise smart messaging
Smart messaging is also another great tool to drive QOF results. It can be used for appointment reminders, to distribute vital health information and send patient questionnaires in a range of key areas such as smoking cessation.
Preset templates for QOF can also free practice time and allow practices to send longer content at speed. Practices we work with have noted how patients find these messages to feel more ‘trustworthy’ in comparison with shorter, basic message templates which can be mistaken for spam.
Many practices also include GP-led calls to action within messages, for everything from contraceptive or medication reviews through to diabetes and chronic disease management.
“We’ve been using Mjog’s batch messaging to contact patients about things like cervical smears, asthma clinic, their smoking status, and diabetes check-ups. We have had really good uptake from these messages, which helps us to hit our QOF targets” - Niné Swift, Practice Manager at Sheerwater Health Centre in Woking, Surrey
Mjog, Livi’s smart messaging solution, also has an automated service that allows practices to text patients FFT questionnaires after they have attended their appointment. And with NHS app integration, practices can send SMS messages free of charge.
How Livi can help
Livi can support QOF attainment and help teams to meet rising patient demand.
We deliver digital primary care capacity and remote consultations through our Livi Practice service, which supports practices and primary care networks to provide additional appointments.
Mjog offers surgeries a tried and tested solution to help practices improve QOF results. From appointment reminders to remote monitoring questionnaires, we enable practices to engage patients at scale and reduce DNAs.
If you would like to learn more, contact our team: firstname.lastname@example.org.