In autumn 2021, Salford Care Organisation, Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust were looking for a way of providing same day urgent advice and guidance for primary care whilst also reducing unnecessary attendances and referrals to the hospital. They commissioned Consultant Connect.
To date, 57% of Consultant Connect calls to their four urgent care services result in the patient being advised to attend the hospital, 19% of patients are referred to outpatients, and the remaining 23% of patients are being treated out of the hospital, by their GP.
We recently interviewed Ben Colman, Senior Project Manager, Integrated Care Division, Salford Care Organisation, Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust to find out more.
Read below or click here to watch video snippets from our interview.
1. When did you commission Consultant Connect and why?
We commissioned Consultant Connect in the autumn of 2021 as part of our COVID-19 response strategy. We were looking for a way of providing same day urgent advice and guidance for our primary care colleagues whilst also reducing unnecessary attendances and referrals to the hospital.
We saw Consultant Connect as a tool for supporting the whole of the healthcare system. What was important for us, from the end user’s perspective, was that the service is really intuitive to use and doesn’t require additional hardware or training – people were busy enough dealing with COVID-19. This meant once people had downloaded the app, they could just get on with using it. This has made engagement and adoption much easier and quicker.
2. How is Consultant Connect used in Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust? Who has access, and what’s the impact been?
We launched with a small number of services, starting with our hospital’s four urgent care services:
- Emergency assessment unit (EAU) surgical triage.
- Paediatric assessment unit
- Paediatric treatment unit
- Community urgent response team
Since launching Consultant Connect, the provision has expanded steadily. This is mainly due to secondary care services seeing and then understanding the benefits.
As the service provides us with call handling and outcome data, we have been able to show clinicians and to service managers internally how the service can help them to manage their referrals. It’s enabled us to show how patients are being seen by the most appropriate clinician in primary or secondary care.
In addition to the four urgent treatment units, there are now 15 elective care services, which are receiving calls from primary care clinicians. There are also two elective care services, which provide advice and guidance internally to other consultants (primarily to EAU).
One of the things we like about Consultant Connect is that it is very flexible in how it’s configured. We have a mixture of consultants and registrars taking phone calls, depending on the specialty.
Call handling and outcome data has been a huge benefit of having Consultant Connect, we simply didn’t have any visibility of this before: We know that 57% of Consultant Connect calls to our four urgent care services result in the patient being advised to attend the hospital, 19% of patients are referred to outpatients, and the remaining 23% of patients are being treated out of the hospital, by their GP.
We don’t see Consultant Connect just in isolation – it’s providing a system-wide benefit to both primary care, secondary care, and within secondary care.
3. Can you tell us about recent service expansions/future plans?
We are constantly thinking of ways to expand the service. A recent example is where a service has removed their bleep entirely and moved all the calls to Consultant Connect which has been working very well.
We’re also beginning to pilot the use of Consultant Connect to support us with our PIFU work.
Finally, we also have a teledermatology pilot live we’re using the PhotoSAF feature, on the IG-secure Consultant Connect App, in conjunction with eRS.
4. How does your Account Manager at Consultant Connect support your project?
Patrick, our Account Manager at Consultant Connect has been supporting us all the way since we launched the project. He’s really responsive and supports individual services who have asked for some support, or guidance. He’s also on hand to show clinicians how to get the most out of Consultant Connect.
5. What do you value most about the Consultant Connect services you have introduced?
I think in Salford the thing that we found most valuable about Consultant Connect is that this service is an enabler to good communication.
Not only good communication within secondary care but also between primary care and secondary care and that just makes the system work better.
Having the data available to feed into our national EROC data is really helpful. Also, systems benefit from patients being seen more appropriately by the right person, and that just speeds the whole system up.
Hear from Ben Colman, watch and scroll through the short video snippets from our interview with him below, or click here to watch them on Vimeo:
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