As all of our customers are CCG Commissioners and NHS Trusts, we get very used to talking about the “value” Consultant Connect provides in terms of reduced waiting lists, managing patient demand and cost savings from unnecessary hospital appointments being avoided. However, an important element that can be overlooked is the value that Advice & Guidance provides to patients.
The NHS Digital Overview of Advice & Guidance is far too brief on the topic of patient benefits, simply stating that:
- “The patient only starts the formal referral process once appropriate advice has been received (indicating the best clinical pathway or management route); and
- Patients do not book an appointment that may subsequently be cancelled and redirected to another service, or rejected”
This barely touches the sides. Our experience is that patients benefit profoundly in 3 areas:
1. Immediate reassurance, avoidance of stress or worry
When a patient is unwell, the stress for them and their family of waiting to find out what is wrong with them can be very uncomfortable. Many calls to Consultant Connect result in the patient being reassured about their condition immediately and, if appropriate, a care plan for that patient being agreed between the clinicians.
For example, the following comments are from clinicians using Consultant Connect:
“Helped appease the anxieties of an anxious mother concerning her new baby”
“I recently used the Paediatrics line to help reassure both myself and the family in the room that what I planned was correct and that the patient didn’t need referring acutely”
“I spoke to cardiologist about cardiomyopathy risk in a patient, and patient was happy with the plan that they advised and seemed confident in their expert opinion.”
“On many occasions I have been able to update a patient quickly on a management plan or been able to reassure them”
2. Avoidance of costs and disruption through unnecessary hospital visits
For many patients, a trip to hospital is more than a mere inconvenience. Transport costs, missed work, childcare arrangements and expensive car parking can have a real financial impact. The impact is increased if family members or other carers are needed to accompany the patient, increasing costs significantly. Consultant Connect ensures that a patient will only make a trip to hospital if it’s necessary – for 68% of calls to Consultant Connect, the patient avoids hospital.
“I rang about a patient who was severely autistic and would have been very difficult to admit or even get to a hospital appointment. I was able to manage treatment for the patient at home.”
“Clear advice regarding managing deranged TFT which saved a referral and the patient was pleased as they didn’t want to go to outpatients”
“Discussed elderly (89yo) patient with mildly abnormal LFT and FBC and agreed management plan that meant could be managed in community and therefore avoided hospital trips and reassured me that not mis-managing patient”
3. Right care, faster
For many patients, an Advice & Guidance episode will end with them receiving the right care from their GP there and then. For some patients, though, a trip to hospital is necessary and the patient will know that they are being referred to the correct specialist first time. Often, the GP-consultant conversation will result in a patient getting swift access to diagnostics.
“It did not avoid an admission but rapidly facilitated access to imaging via AEC that meant the patient had a very swift diagnosis of their problem.”
“Advice on best route for referral based upon radiology results received. Resulted in referral but via the best channel. Patient very grateful”
“Discussion with consultant was helpful in directing patient to correct service (I wasn’t sure whether to refer back to Colposcopy or to refer to General Gynaecology Clinic); patient journey was improved as they were directed to most appropriate clinic (and avoided wasted appointment)”
“I had a patient with a suspected ruptured AAA, spoke to vascular consultant directly, and theatre was ready for him when he was bluelighted in”
“Very helpful cardiology consultant connect. Had a patient that was difficult to manage due to complex medical and social issues. Needed angiogram and advice on managing his chest pain – they were very helpful in advising and also booking a very urgent angiogram for him.”
If you would like to find out how patients in your area could benefit from immediate telephone Advice & Guidance, please contact us to set up an initial call and a demonstration on 01865 261467 or firstname.lastname@example.org