The use of process improvement methodologies to equip receptionists for their clinical roles in General Practice.

Burrows, Michael John (2020). The use of process improvement methodologies to equip receptionists for their clinical roles in General Practice. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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The contributions of the receptionist in general practice are overlooked. General practice in England faces unprecedented demand, and the receptionist is critical in meeting these, as well as contributing to the successful and safe functioning of the practice. Yet our understanding of this role is limited.

A multiple-methods study began with a systematic review of the existing literature. The findings showed receptionists to be female, white, and middle-aged. They undertake a number of clerical and clinically related roles, including repeat prescribing, providing clinical information and triage/appointment making. However, research was scarce and out-of-date.

Following this, two questionnaires were employed. The first explored receptionists’ demographics, job roles, duties, perceived satisfaction, importance and appreciation. Findings showed, a largely female white and middle-aged workforce, that training was unsatisfactory and centred on non-clinical activities, and overall satisfaction with their role was low. The second questionnaire, the Work Design Questionnaire (WDQ), explored the parameters of the role. The WDQ showed a complex and highly varied role, requiring significant knowledge and specialised skill and which has a high cognitive load for the receptionist, potentially impacting patient safety.

Process mapping the receptionist's role in appointment making, showed a complex process, driven by the receptionist with input from patients and clinical staff. Key points of potential failure were identified, concerning sufficient and accurate information on which to base decisions, again, with clear patient safety implications.

This thesis updates the existing knowledge base and our understanding of GP receptionists’ roles, showing them to undertake clear clinically related roles, with concomitant patient safety implications. The receptionist works in an environment of high demand, requiring significant knowledge and skills to navigate it, however training is potentially inadequate and largely absent for those clinically related roles. Further training, practical changes and a reconceptualization of the role are suggested to more formally recognise the vital, but all too often overlooked role of the GP receptionist.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Medical & Dental Sciences
School or Department: Institute of Applied Health Research
Funders: Other
Other Funders: The Health Foundation
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
R Medicine > R Medicine (General)


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