Non-emergency patients in NHS Lanarkshire, who had previously been asked to attend an emergency department within one to four hours, are now being asked to wait at home until they get a call back from a senior clinician, from the Flow Navigation Centre, to discuss the best course of action.
NHS Lanarkshire has seen a significant impact since introducing the Patient Connect service, via Consultant Connect, in December 2020 at University Hospital Monklands with the aim of getting patients the right care faster and the first time.
We caught up with Dr Gordon McNeish, Emergency Medicine Consultant and Project Lead at NHS Lanarkshire, to find out more…
When did you set up Patient Connect in Lanarkshire, and why?
‘In December 2020, all health boards in Scotland were asked to set up a Flow Navigation Centre at pace, as part of NHS Scotland’s redesign of the urgent care pathway, with the aim of improving the interface between primary care, NHS 24, and acute sites.
‘We wanted to provide senior decision-maker support to the staff working within the Flow Navigation Centre, and we made a rota of ED consultants working across three hospital sites in Lanarkshire who would cover the peak times (12pm – 8pm, seven days a week). Whilst we were setting it up, we were working alongside colleagues in Hairmyres, in the Flow Navigation Centre and using the computer systems and interface to see the calls and the telephone system to contact the patient. However, we wanted to engage more ED consultants to work with us on the new process and give them the possibility to potentially work remotely. This meant we needed something that would enable us to contact the patient, measure outcomes, and keep our identity and confidential phone numbers hidden from the patients, and that is when we contacted Consultant Connect.
‘We then introduced Patient Connect, via Consultant Connect in December 2020, as a solution to the challenges we were facing when setting up our Flow Navigation Centre.’
How does Patient Connect work, and what are the benefits?
‘Patient Connect allows patients and their carers to speak directly with clinicians. The system allows a clinician to ring a patient directly and tracks and records that call, including the call outcome. Before making a Patient Connect call, the emergency medical consultant is provided with full access to the patient’s medical records, including history and medication, etc.
‘Centralising these calls to one system has been a great benefit to the clinicians involved and patients. Calls are recorded for medico-legal purposes, and reporting data is provided to University Hospital Monklands and NHS Lanarkshire so usage and outcomes can be monitored. Personal telephone numbers are never displayed, and the platform is fully IG-secure and GDPR-compliant.
‘During the call, the consultant can use their knowledge of local ED and what is available in the community e.g., via local opticians, pharmacists, dentists, etc., to find patients the right care.
‘Since setting up Patient Connect, we’ve had approximately 4,000 calls from patients to the service, and we’ve been able to measure that over 30% of these calls have resulted in the patients being kept away from EDs.’
What has the feedback been from clinicians and patients?
‘Feedback from patients and their carers has been positive; they are delighted to hear that an emergency medicine consultant will be calling them directly rather than waiting in a queue for hours. The ability to talk through their condition with an ED consultant provides the reassurance that they don’t need to attend hospital.
‘From a clinician’s point of view, feedback has also been good. The technology is easy to use, and no training is required. Emergency medicine consultants can also bring in advice from other specialists in the hospital using the Consultant Connect platform to quickly speak with colleagues. This is ideal for many patients, including those with post-op or long-term condition needs. If a follow-up is needed, the emergency medicine consultant can also arrange this for the patient, which further expedites care.’
*Data correct as of May 2022
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