Innovative solutions can improve the patient pathway when a visit to the GP results in a need for further specialist advice. This normally leads to a consultant referral, which can delay treatment and may also add to a busy workload in that specialty.
In many cases a GP is able to treat the patient themselves if they can get timely advice from a specialist. This will improve patient experience and reduce demand for hospital appointments.
Consultant Connect offers GPs access to immediate advice and guidance from consultants over the telephone. Calls connect in an average time of under 35 seconds, meaning that they can get the advice while the patient is still with them if preferred.
The service routes GP calls directly to teams of consultants (rather than to individual consultants) via their mobile phones, avoiding switchboard queues.
GPs access the service using their mobile or landline. If using their mobile, they just open the Consultant Connect App, select a specialty and then make the call. If using a landline, they dial their practice’s local-rate number before selecting the specialty.
The Advice & Guidance conversation is recorded for medico-legal purposes with recordings being accessible to the relevant GP practice and hospital team. Health Boards and hospitals can also access statistical data to monitor use of advice & guidance and identify any training needs with a view to improving local service provision.
In addition, the PhotoSAF Safe Clinical Photography function via the Consultant Connect App enables GPs to use their mobile phones to take IG-compliant clinical photos (the photos are not saved on the mobile phone) for uploading to patient records.
Photos can also be instantly shared with clinical teams, offering a quick, easy and safe way of delivering advice in specialties where images are useful, such as dermatology and diabetic podiatry
Consultant Connect provides simple telephone and photo solutions that support integration between clinicians, such as local GPs and local hospital consultant teams. Consultant Connect provides the technology alongside full implementation and user support, ensuring it gets used.
The system is in use in over 60 CCGs/Health Boards and over 50 Hospitals, covering a patient population of over 19 million.
Over 2,500 GP practices use it to contact specialty teams in elective care, urgent care and mental health. Hospital clinicians also use the system to call senior colleagues or other specialist teams within the same hospital.
For more information, please visit consultantconnect.org.uk
Since launching in 2015, 66% of calls to elective specialties through Consultant Connect have avoided a trip to hospital. In urgent care, over 70% of calls avoid a trip to A&E.
It’s estimated that Consultant Connect has saved the NHS over £10 million by ensuring that patients get the right treatment from the start. Consultant Connect won the Barclays Innovation Award in 2018 for “having a major impact on the industry in which it operates.”
Projects have been running in NHS Tayside and NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde since autumn 2018 with very positive outcomes for patients as well as yielding whole-system efficiencies via avoiding unnecessary patient visits to hospital.