Area Case Study | Using PIFU for LTC patients in Bedfordshire, Luton, and Milton Keynes

Published: 19th July 2023
MS and Epilepsy Patient Initiated Follow Up (PIFU) services are reducing unnecessary visits to hospital and improving patient waiting times at Bedfordshire Hospitals. Short video clips included in this article show clinicians talking about what impact this has made…
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Helpline numbers for patients with MS and Epilepsy in Bedfordshire and Luton have been available for some years. However, the Neurology team at Bedfordshire Hospitals could see that the process of accessing medical advice was often protracted impacting patient confidence and wellbeing. The process was that calls were answered by a secretary if a nurse was not available. The secretary then recorded the message, passed the message onto the nurse, and then eventually the nurse called the patient back meaning patients often didn’t get an immediate response.

To improve the process, the Neurology team decided to introduce Consultant Connect’s Patient Initiated Follow-Up (PIFU) service. The instant reliability of this service has led to patients feeling more confident that they will reach the right person the first time. The system also means the helplines now meet the NICE guidelines for patients to have a single point of contact, who knows about their condition.

Improving patient care

Reliability for patients is achieved via Consultant Connect using a ‘hunt group’ function backed up by a rota of available specialist nurses to answer the calls. If the first nurse on the rota is unable to answer, the call moves on to the next nurse on the rota until it is answered. On average patient calls are being answered in 30 seconds. Calls are placed direct to the mobile numbers of nurses, but these numbers are not disclosed to the patient at any time.

‘I can change the rota, I can add people into it, I can change the telephone numbers, the amazing thing about it is you can divert the calls to anybody, anywhere in the world, it doesn’t matter, as all the patients know is that single number. Personal mobile numbers are never disclosed.’

– Hüseyin Hüseyin, Neurology Operational Lead

All calls are recorded for medio-legal purposes and are fully auditable plus the Neurology Team can view data reports to track outcomes achieved and the usage of the service.

‘As an operational lead I am able to identify number of calls coming in, the outcomes that come in, which is excellent in terms of at the end of the day auditing and finding out what were the results of those calls, and I think I couldn’t get anything better.’

– Hüseyin Hüseyin, Neurology Operational Lead

Watch Hüseyin Hüseyin, Neurology Operational Lead talking about the benefits to patients of the PIFU service:

Extending the service to Primary Care and Secondary Care colleagues

The success of the PIFU lines has led to the Neurology Team extending their Advice & Guidance telephone services out to GPs.

‘When GPs call us using Consultant Connect, we can pre-empt any test requirements, for example recommendation for MRI, whereby the time patient can come in to see us we can have MRI in our hand, and the diagnosis can be made at one stop rather than patient having to come back.  So, it’s speeding up the patient’s diagnostic phase, but certainly also it stops patients coming into hospital unnecessarily. I also believe that GPs are becoming more educated about neurology patients when they use the service.’

– Hüseyin Hüseyin, Neurology Operational Lead

The service is also available for other specialty consultants to use. Watch Hüseyin Hüseyin talking about GPs and consultants using the service in the short video below:

Using the app as a phone directory to save time

‘There is also the directory within the Consultant Connect app so I can directly call the GP surgeries if I want to. The calls go directly to the GP rather than going to the secretary which saves me valuable time.’

– Hüseyin Hüseyin, Neurology Operational Lead

Interestingly Consultant Connect is not a new concept for Bedfordshire Hospitals. It was first introduced in Luton in 2016 to enable GPs to obtain rapid Telephone Advice & Guidance. This service now covers 14 specialties, including Neurology.

PIFU service performance to date*

‘I think the team at Consultant Connect has always been efficient and effective in a timely manner, and I would like to thank you guys for helping me to introduce this system into my team.’

– Hüseyin Hüseyin, Neurology Operational Lead

To date, the MS Patient Initiated Follow Up (PIFU) has had:

  • Over 1,500 calls placed
  • 25 seconds average connection time

Where outcomes were reported:

  • 26% of calls resulted in an appropriate admission/appointment
  • 16% of calls related to medication management
  • 16% of calls resulted in no further action needed
  • 6% of calls resulted in the patient being signposted (e.g., GP)
  • 2% of calls resulted in an admission being avoided
  • 3% of calls were COVID-19 related
  • 10% of calls were regarding the discussion of patient test results
  • 12% of calls were related to the patient’s MS symptoms worsening

Rheumatology Nurse-led line:

In October 2021, we launched a new Rheumatology Nurse-led line. Patients can use this line to call the Rheumatology Team directly for medication and clinical queries. Calls are answered by administrative assistants from Monday-Friday, between 9am-12pm. This is not an emergency service and is for advice only.

Key statistics since launch:

  • Over 27,000 calls placed
  • 25 seconds average connection time

To allow for clear tracking of patient symptoms and for the most appropriate care plan to be put into place in a timely manner, outcomes of these calls are recorded:

Area Case Study | Using PIFU for LTC patients in Bedfordshire, Luton, and Milton Keynes - Consultant Connect

*Data correct as of July 2023.

Setting up PIFU in your Trust/Area

PIFU is as straightforward as you would expect from Consultant Connect with two pathway options –  see diagram below, or click here to download the PDF:

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