Dr Patrick Davey spoke with Digital Health about how Consultant Connect enables closer connections between primary care and secondary care and helps alleviate NHS pressures.
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Digital Spotlight: Using triage solutions to alleviate pressure on the NHS
Effective digital triaging and consultation programs hold the promise of shifting pressures from overburdened parts of the NHS such as general practice and A&E.
For Patrick Davey, a consultant cardiologist at Northampton General Hospital and a senior advisor for telemedicine and triaging service Consultant Connect, these solutions are also a way of enabling closer connections between primary care and hospital specialists.
GPs second-guessing the reasons for a patient’s symptoms have often erred on the side of sending them directly into hospital in the absence of more specialised advice.
“Some of those patients didn’t need to go into hospital and some GPs didn’t know what to do in the interval before referral,” he said in an interview with Digital Health. GPs without close contacts among consultants often don’t know whom to speak to, with the result that many patients end up in hospital when they don’t need to be there.
Guidance from colleagues
The Consultant Connect app provides a list of hospital consultants and the order in which GPs should ring them. If there is no answer within 20 seconds, the app moves to the next consultant on the list.
While local hospital consultants occupy the top slots for users of the app, if none are available, a national consultant will field the call.
The fact that calls are recorded, Davey says, provides a chance to review his own communication skills:
“It is a fantastic learning resource, great for clinical governance and legality and patient safety.”
For GPs, it can help provide confidence about their decision-making, he adds: “Around 10-15% of the time you listen and think the person needs immediate hospitalisation – by allowing the GP to use your name, you are giving them permission, or there are actually situations where it is quite grey and then it is a situation of managing uncertainty.”
Consultant Connect also operates an outpatient triage service that replaces physical referral documents that traditionally piled up on consultants’ desks and risked being misplaced.
Consultants can use Consultant Connect software to view referral data and supporting information, such as discharge information or EKGs, quickly allowing them to see what further treatment is needed and enabling them to act on it quickly, Davey says.
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