What if the GPs don’t use it?

Published: 21st April 2016

shutterstock_300581171The history of innovation is littered with products that may have been great but which, through lack of use or impact or luck, were ultimately ditched. And it wasn’t always the best technology that survived, either – as anyone who mulled over the Betamax / VHS conundrum in the 80s knows.

So it’s no surprise that one of the most common questions we get asked when talking about Consultant Connect is “what if the GPs don’t use it?”. We hear stories every day about written Advice & Guidance services that don’t get used, normally right before we’re asked “…so why will a telephone Advice & Guidance system be any different”?

Our answer is always “it will get used”, and here’s why:

If consultants are picking up the phone, GPs will call them. A quick conversation is a lot quicker than making a referral, even if the time for follow up work is not included. If the call has a good chance of avoiding an unnecessary referral, GPs will call.

You don’t need all the GPs to use Advice & Guidance to have a big impact. Unless you make your Advice & Guidance service compulsory, you will not get all your GPs using it. After our service has been live for a few months we see a fairly typical profile of adoption – we see heavy users, users and low / non-users. Try as you might, some GPs will not be persuaded to use Advice & Guidance (“I prefer to refer”). The impact of telephone Advice & Guidance, though, is so great that we see a meaningful return on investment even in the first few months when usage is just starting. As more GPs adopt the system, the ROI increases.

You can get more GPs to use Advice & Guidance easily. Usage is an easy problem to solve. If you can show an approach is working – the phone is being answered, patients are avoiding unnecessary trips to hospital, GPs are saving time – you can increase usage. Encouraging GPs to spread their own stories of good experiences is probably the most powerful way of getting people to try Advice & Guidance. Having a good communications plan, combined with structured engagement activities, encourages low / non-users to build on the good experiences of others and start using the system.

If you keep talking about Advice & Guidance, it will keep being used. Our customers are frequently surprised at how much work we do to make sure Consultant Connect continues to be used in the months that follow its successful implementation. This is because, although it will become habit with some GPs (especially heavy users), others need the reassurance that the initiative is active and still getting the support of management and clinicians. The opportunity to improve the ROI on the system remains whilst there are non-users and persevering with late adopters will help areas get the most out of their system.

In the end, though, the most persuasive point we make on the “will it get used” question is based on our experience rolling Consultant Connect out across the country: after 3 months in an area, we predict that 90% of GP practices will have used Consultant Connect and 90% of consultants will have taken a call. After 6 months we aim for monthly usage of the system by over 80% of practices. That may seem ambitious, but we see these results because Advice & Guidance is something most GPs actually want to use, rather than something they’re being told to use.

If you would like to learn more about setting up a telephone Advice & Guidance system in your area, please call us on 01865 261451 or email info@www.consultantconnect.org.uk.

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