Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Below you’ll find answers to the questions we get asked the most. For a brief overview of Consultant Connect services, please click here. If you have any additional questions or need service support from us, please call us on 01865 261467 or email email@example.com. Consultant Connect only works in the NHS.
Is the service free to GPs, consultants and other clinicians?
Yes. The service, including all Consultant Connect App functionality, is paid for by the CCG/HealthBoard and/or Trust/Hospital/ Mental Health Trust. There is no cost to Users, other than the cost of a local telephone call if they are seeking Telephone A&G.
Users typically include GPs, Nurses, Paramedics and Consultants but subject to agreement by CCG/HB and Trust/Hospital/Mental Health Trust other care organisations can also be included. These include Out-of-Hours teams, Prison Health teams, Care Homes and Optometrists. These additional User categories can be given restricted access to specialty offerings as appropriate. There is no restriction on the number of callers within any one User organisation; i.e. all Paramedics can access the service as appropriate by either using the Consultant Connect App or the single unique Dial-In Number that would be provided for the Ambulance Service. Read our case studies.
Does this service replace other Advice & Guidance (A&G) routes?
No – this service aims to provide Users with additional options providing for quicker and more efficient access to A&G. Pre-existing sources of A&G such as email and local referral systems will continue to be available.
Which specialties can be accessed and during what hours of the day?
The specialities available and the hours of operation are agreed by the Acute/Mental Health Trust/Hospital Teams and the CCG/HB. As well as the Consultant Connect App showing a full list of available specialties, each GP Practice will receive a poster with this information. The app and the poster will be updated whenever changes are made to the service, such as new specialties added. Calls will only be routed to consultants’ mobile or direct dial phones during the agreed hours of operation. Calls will not be routed to consultants outside of these agreed hours and consultants are automatically excluded from rotas during any notified periods of holiday. Mobile numbers are never shared with Users.
Who is responsible for the patient whose care is being discussed?
The GP remains responsible for deciding what treatment is to be provided following receipt of the A&G and whether or not a referral or admission is appropriate for their patient.
Why do Users need to input the NHS number?
The NHS number is attached to the medico-legal call recordings and photo/message PDFs to assist subsequent retrieval by relevant GP practices and/or Hospital Teams should it be necessary. If no NHS number is input by the GP, the recordings/PDFs can still be tracked by date/time reference.
Why is providing the outcome important?
At the end of a call/photo/messaging dialogue, the GP/User provides the outcome by selecting from a set of options. This provides CCG/HBs, Trust/Hospital/Mental Health Trust and GP practices with a broad view as to the impact of the service.
Do consultants have to take the calls?
No. In the vast majority of cases consultants will be taking calls during their normal work plan and it is up to each individual as to whether they take or ignore a call. Consultant Connect calls are identifiable to the consultants as they always arrive via the same inbound phone number. The service operates on a rota of consultants so if a consultant is not available, the call moves on to the next consultant and so on until the call is answered. The UK average answer rate for our service is just 27 seconds.
How many calls will a consultant take?
Experience to date is that GPs continue to adhere to established local pathways and use this service very wisely, being very much aware Trust/Hospital teams are busy. On national average, consultants take around 2 or 3 calls per week. Calls average just under 4 minutes in duration.
Can existing Trust/Hospital helplines be included?
Yes. Consultant Connect does not remove helplines that are already working well. These can simply be imported into the system and positioned as the priority number on the call rota and there is no operational change for the teams who answer the helplines. These teams will however have access to activity and outcome statistics as well as having the protection of all calls being recorded. Consultant Connect has been proven to reactivate hotlines that are not working very well – read our blog article.
Will consultants have access to any patient records?
Consultants are often away from their desks when they take a call. As such, GPs should assume that the consultants will not have access to any patient records and that advice will be based entirely on the information that is provided to the consultants via telephone/photo/message.
What is the telephone call connection rate?
Whilst many Consultant Teams do nearly achieve it, this service cannot guarantee a 100% call connection rate as sometimes all consultants within a team are busy with patients. Support from out-of-area NHS consultants does however generally achieve a 90%+ first-time connection rate. If a call doesn’t connect the first-time the GP can call back later or revert to pre-existing means of securing A&G. Out-of-area NHS consultants are able to provide general Advice & Guidance but will not know about local pathways or bed availability. GPs will hear when a call is being routed to an out-of-area NHS consultant as opposed to a local team. The GP can decide whether an out-of-area NHS consultant will be able to answer their query (in which case they can hold on the call) or not (in which case the GP can hang up and try later). Feedback from GPs that use out-of-area NHS consultant advice has been extremely positive – read some of our case studies.
Can I send messages for Advice & Guidance via the Consultant Connect App?
In areas where this feature is enabled, clinicians can click on ‘Messages’ on the Consultant Connect App to send messages to consultants within the app. You can view all open and closed advice requests you have sent to specialists via the PhotoSAF feature.
Can I only use messaging Advice & Guidance via the Consultant Connect App?
While the Consultant Connect App is a secure and reliable way to take and share photos of patients, you can also share photos sent by patients from your computer. Once logged in to the secure Consultant Connect platform (using the same details you use to log in to the app), you can upload images sent by patients (e.g. for Teledermatology) or upload files (e.g. ECGs, Echo reports, scans or x-rays) for consultant advice or to save to patient records. Please see this step-by-step guide on Patient Initiated Teledermatology or watch this 40 second video link for more detail.
How do I transfer photos and messages from Consultant Connect to patient records?
Go to the Consultant Connect platform and locate the photo(s) or message(s) you need. In the top right corner, you can download a PDF with notes or photos only to your desktop and then use the PDF as your attachment for the patient records.
Who should I call for help with the service?
For any service/ technical queries, please call: 01865 261467 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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