A Doctor Writes: “The Massive Benefits Of Reviewing Call Recordings”

Published: 27th September 2017

Dr David Griffiths is a GP and the Medical Director at Consultant Connect.

Among the by-products of a telephone Advice & Guidance system, like Consultant Connect, are recordings of the calls that have been made. Reviewing these recordings and acting upon the information they contain can have a massive benefit for all concerned.

Many insights that are not captured by other methods can be revealed and these could be used to improve ways of working and patient care. For example, using intelligent analysis of call recordings and outcomes, CCGs and Trusts can quickly spot patterns in their provision which require attention – such as

  • holes in the system
  • pathways that don’t flow well
  • patients who are having a bad experience
  • clinical topics where GPs have educational needs
  • pathways which are not being utilised properly
  • communication failures

Using clinical information to deliver insights

Gaps in clinical knowledge are inevitable, especially with the increasing breadth and depth of modern medicine. Data could reveal that local GPs frequently phone about the same clinical issue. Focused education on that topic could be provided at local GP events, along with articles in practice communications. Increasing personal confidence through education is key in implementing change.

Handoffs in care are another well-known risk point, where information can be lost or miscommunicated and yet there is little systematic training provided. One of several simple frameworks for avoiding the latter is SBAR, which I have found useful myself, and this is something a local system might choose to look at.

GPs and Consultants may also have glitches in their communication style. In my experience, it is common for busy clinicians to forget to introduce themselves at the start of a call, basic information is often left out and the question being asked can sometimes be unclear. Focusing on communication style can address these issues.

By the same token, GPs frequently receive navigation advice from consultants regarding the best way for a patient to receive the care they need. My sense is that some consultants are naturally excellent at this navigation advice but that some are most definitely not. Again, it is not something which is commonly taught and where focused education/coaching could add significant value.

The role of commissioners and providers

The data gained from call recordings is very helpful and valuable – but it’s wasted if no action is taken. Top performing CCGs are top performing CCGs because they consistently search for ways to make their best even better. For top performing CCGs ‘continuous improvement’ is not just a catchphrase, it’s a focus based on gathering information from across the entire provision. And they know that data is helpful only when it highlights weaknesses as well as strengths.

Sunderland CCG uses call recordings from Consultant Connect to improve their services. Hospital and primary care colleagues work together to review and gather learnings. Tracey Lucas, Urgent & Ambulatory Care Clinical Lead comments “listening to the calls enables us to see how effectively GP enquiries are being dealt with and also shows us quite clearly where there are gaps in our provision. The reviewing team acts upon this information by delivering education and coaching and using it to inform strategic decisions.

There is no doubt that call recordings are a convenient medico-legal record of an Advice & Guidance conversation. But for those CCGs and Trusts that take the time to review them, they can be so much more than that. As well as being a record of the past, they can be a guide to what future care provision should be.

For more information on how you could be using call recording data to improve ways of working and patient care, contact us on 01865 261467 or email info@www.consultantconnect.org.uk

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