The Heathcote Medical centre is a busy, semi-rural surgery in Tadworth, Surrey. The practice is a partnership made up of five partners, two registrars and two salaried GPs who are supported by a community healthcare team of four nurses, an ultrasonographer and two healthcare assistants. Together this dedicated team serves a large list of 11,500 patients.
Nine GPs, four nurses, an ultrasonographer and two healthcare assistants now use the QL-550 machine in consultations with patients.
Many consultations require patient labels to be written out by hand for items such as blood sample bottles or physio referral requests. These labels contain a range of detailed information such as the patient’s name, address, NHS number and telephone number, the doctor’s name and NHS code and surgery name and code.
In a short, 10-minute consultation, the task of having to write such forms is time consuming. The surgery was therefore keen to explore ways in which it could automatically print labels using a printer that was compatible with a piece of software called EasyLabeller.
The machine can print direct from a PC on both die cut peel-off labels or continuous length tape and its thermal print technology means no toner, ink or ribbon costs.
Patient information is extracted directly from the clinicians’ software system and imported into the EasyLabeller package from where the label is printed.
Dr Mark Jenkins said: “Labels are not required in all consultations but they are in a large proportion of them. I’d say in a surgery lasting two hours this saves me probably at least 10 minutes of time.
“This may not sound like a lot – but it’s time I can be doing other things like answering the telephone, doing repeat prescriptions or, most importantly, talking to patients.
“I’ve found the QL-550 very easy to use – it was simple to set up and within minutes of taking it out of the box I was printing labels. It’s possible to assign a key on my computer keyboard* so, as long as I have the patients’ notes open in the clinical software system, I can print the label I want at the touch of a button.
“Crucially, switching to the QL-550 has meant we now don’t get sample bottles returned to us by hospital labs because they can’t read the label. This was happening quite frequently before and was a real problem. The label printer has resolved this instantly.
“We were also very keen on the flexibility the QL-550 offered – it cuts labels to size meaning you can produce labels which are as long or as short as you like. And it also has the capacity to change font sizes and layout which is great.”