NHS England and NHS Improvement – East of England recently published ‘An overview of best practice: Primary Care’ and Consultant Connect is featured in this paper.
We’ve reproduced the Consultant Connect case studies and included contact details for each of the case studies following permission by NHS Milton Keynes CCG and NHS Bedfordshire CCG.
In Practice | Consultant Connect in NHS Bedfordshire CCG:
Teledermatology pathway via Consultant Connect / AccuRX
Background and Purpose
Bedfordshire had a sizeable referral to treatment (RTT) problem in Dermatology, leading to excessive waiting times for patients. Prior to implementing this teledermatology pathway, previous attempts had been made to introduce teledermatology in Bedfordshire. The previous model was condition and age-range specific and therefore not widely accepted as an easy way to seek Advice & Guidance (A&G). During the initial outbreak of Covid-19 this service ceased, as the operating model did not fit in with how both Primary and Secondary Care services were able to provide care at this time. In response to this the Consultant Connect and AccuRX model was trialled, to create a complete virtual referral A&G service for Dermatology. Currently, 26 GP practices are using this model.
- Provide an open A&G platform for Dermatology related concerns
- Reduce need for face to face appointments where appropriate
- Ensure equity of access to Dermatology services for patients
The teledermatology A&G platform set up using Consultant Connect allows GPs to securely share images with Consultant Dermatologists for expert A&G.
This allows consultant dermatologists to provide tailored advice to GPs, including the upgrade of what would have been a routine referral to a 2WW (helping to detect cancer sooner), as well as providing management plans that allow GPs to order appropriate initial tests while a patient awaits their routine appointment. Patients can either;
– Take a photo themselves at home and share through the AccuRX platform with their GP who in turn can share it through Consultant Connect
– Attend a face to face GP appointment where the GP can take a photo and share it via the Consultant Connect platform
Using the national consultant pool through the Consultant Connect service has released time back into Secondary Care to allow local consultants to work on reducing local referral backlog.
- Responses from Dermatology consultants are usually received within 1 hour of the request being submitted, much faster than the previous system
- 17% of routine cases shared so far have been upgraded to 2WW, reducing the delay these patients may have otherwise experienced for what may be a time-critical diagnosis
- 67% of cases have been managed by Primary Care, under a management plan provided through this A&G service, improving GP education in the process
- Continue to roll out across Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes ICS (BLMK ICS)
- Review how this service could be further utilised and any transferable learning for other specialties
- Review equity of access for patients who aren’t engaging with virtual GP pathways