Last month was our third birthday. But it feels like we’re a lot older. Why? A lot’s happened in those three years.
Since we started in March 2015, we have:
- Grown the number of patients our service covers from zero to over 13 million (see here – cc-1-page-210218);
- Expanded the Advice & Guidance our service offers to elective, urgent and mental health care specialties;
- Introduced the UK’s first Information Governance secure clinical photography app;
- Been shortlisted for 4 HSJ Awards;
- Been included in NHSE’s CQUIN 2017-19; and
- Got through (at least) 8 coffee machines.
So, what have we learned?
Great stories are as important as great numbers
When we first launched our service in June 2015 we were obsessed with the numbers – we wanted to know how many calls GPs would make to which specialties and how many of those calls would result in a patient avoiding an avoidable referral or admission. This was why people would invest in our service, so it was the right approach to take. Or so we thought.
After a few months something interesting happened. We noticed that potential customers seemed as interested in the stories that we told of how the service worked in practice as they were in the numbers. For example, the elderly lady who was convinced her next trip to hospital would be her last and her delight when a Consultant Connect call spared her the journey. The seemingly fit (and very lucky) man who had something slightly wrong with his ECG and who was sent to hospital as a precaution on the advice of a consultant, only to have a massive heart attack as he entered A&E. The child who had been vomiting for 48 hours and whose GP was advised by an extremely confident paediatrician that the bug would be gone and forgotten by the next day – and it was.
So now you’ll read our stories as much as you’ll see our data. Start now by going to our blog and checking the “Case Studies” box.
Getting stakeholders on board takes time, is worth the time!
This is going to sound ridiculous but, when we were very young, we didn’t always appreciate how important it is to make sure everyone involved in a project is happy. For example, if the commissioner said that the Trust would “be fine”, we’d take the project on. Only to find out that they weren’t fine and then have a LOT of extra work and conflict that could have been avoided.
Today we have learned that lesson. For example, we won’t agree to take on a project unless we have signoff from a senior sponsor at every organisation (CCG and Trust) involved in a project. This can take a lot of time to agree. We have had a few projects that have been delayed by 3 – 6 months whilst everyone agreed. But, boy, was it worth waiting – addressing issues before they become problems is key to launching our projects. And we’ve not had a single project fail to launch to date. Phew.
Everyone wants the same thing, just differently
You know that old NHS adage that “no two areas are the same”? Yes, yes – it’s true, but it’s easy to forget that everyone is trying to achieve the same thing. And everyone IS trying to achieve the same thing, often from similar angles. Every area, without exception, is trying to improve patient care, make the most of their budget, make clinicians’ jobs more straightforward.
What this means is that areas are often not as different as they think they may be. There ARE different challenges to be faced, such as different budget constraints, different levels of deprivation and agedness, different availability of clinicians, different histories of organisations working together. But we’ve learned a lot in three years and when somebody says “what’s peculiar about our area is…” they are often quite entertained to hear that the peculiarity isn’t so, well, peculiar!
What this means in practice is that we have a way of dealing with almost all eventualities on a project. Terrible reception in your Trust? Here are three things that we can do to overcome that. GPs fed up with new initiatives? Here are different ways to engage with them to get them on board. In short, if you think a telephone Advice & Guidance project could never work in your area – challenge us to come up with an answer!
If you’d like to hear some great stories about Consultant Connect’s telephone Advice & Guidance service, please call us on 01865 261467 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. A demonstration takes less than 30 minutes and you’ll be amazed how quick and easy it is to implement in your area.