Four ways GP locums can reduce screen time

28th August 2023 by Dr Alex Lai and Dr Nirja Joshi

Four ways GP locums can reduce screen time

All GPs use technology throughout the day through computer programmes, emails, mobile phones, apps, social media and a move towards digital consultations. Through this increased reliance, we risk causing a blur between our work life and our home life.

What does ‘digital wellbeing’ mean for GPs?

Digital wellbeing, as defined by Google, seeks to create a balance of the use of technology whereby technology is working in our favour and not impacting negatively on our lives. This definition helps us to think about how technology can infringe on our lives and our wellbeing.

Have you been replying to emails or WhatsApp messages from work whilst on annual leave? Do you have access to working from home and find yourself logging on during non-work hours? Are your family dinners ever disrupted through mindless scrolling? Do work related messages disturb your sleep? All of these are relatable examples of how our use of technology can blur the pre existing definitions between work and home.

Technology has made huge improvements to healthcare delivery, and GP surgeries can work much more efficiently with technologies such as sending photographs or being able to search through medical records, but it is important to think about where we draw the boundaries.

How do GPs create digital boundaries?

We have four top tips for GPs about how to improve your relationship with technology:

  • Taking your work email app (e.g. NHS mail) off your phone. This allows you to only answer work emails whilst at work. Therefore helping you to limit workplace activities to within the working day, avoid pop up notifications of work related emails at inopportune times and allow you to be able to respond when you are in the correct frame of mind for work.
  • Create shortcuts to help to ease your workload. We can recognise common themes during our sessions for example, a leaflet about red flags for children with fever, is something you may have to distribute frequently. You can create a template text message to send to parents with the safety netting advice to help to save you time finding a leaflet each time.
  • Mindfulness apps are a great positive way to use your phone to your advantage. GPs often find on calls stressful, using a mindfulness app to do a minute of mindfulness before starting your session can help to improve your mindset and prepare you for the day ahead!
  • Mute work WhatsApp groups when you are on holiday. Muting these groups will allow you to not receive any notifications which can raise stress levels when you’re trying to take a break.

We are aware that some GPs prefer to keep a work phone which is separate. Although an investment and another device, it does help to create a physical boundary as the work phone will not be accessible all of the time.

If you would like more tips about digital wellbeing, The WorkWell Doctors run workshops for surgeries and teams. Do contact us at theworkwelldoctors@gmail.com and we can see how we can help.

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