One of the things we do at Consultant Connect is record the outcomes of calls. The GP who dials in and the consultant that answers are both asked, at the end of the call, to press a number on their keypad. For example, press “1” if a referral was avoided, “2” if a referral was made and so on. This allows us to establish whether GPs using Consultant Connect are getting Advice & Guidance that allows them to treat a patient in the community rather than sending them to hospital.
Because of this feedback we are able to compare the performance of clinical specialties on the Consultant Connect system: which specialties are most effective at keeping patients in the community?
Interestingly, one of the standout performers is Endocrinology. Approximately 80% of Consultant Connect calls made to this specialty conclude in no referral. We spoke with a couple of the consultants about why Endocrinology was so well suited to the Consultant Connect approach – they came up with the following 3 characteristics of a specialty that will likely help to avoid referrals:
- The specialty is not well understood by GPs – “We spend all day every day getting to know an area of medicine inside out, GPs do not have that luxury. This means that, if there is a simple solution to a problem, they are less likely to know it. A phone call will likely reveal that solution.”
- The solution to the medical problem is likely to be easily managed – “The actions we recommend in Endocrinology tend to be very simple, for example a change of medication and a follow-up blood test. These can be easily communicated on the phone”.
- The matter is not likely to be urgent – “If you’re dealing with a very sick person, you are likely to be anxious. In these circumstances a chat on the phone will not provide enough reassurance and they will have already decided to refer to an urgent facility, probably. If the patient is not so sick, though, the GP will be more relaxed and a phone call may be all that is required to help make a care decision that keeps a patient in the community.”
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