Consultant Connect is marking its third year operating in Wales with the renewal of its contract. The telemedicine provider prevented more than 18,000 patients in Wales visiting hospital unnecessarily in 2022.
The seven health boards in Wales and the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust all use Consultant Connect, making Wales the first country to offer all of its NHS clinicians access.
Consultant Connect technology was first adopted in Wales in 2020 to support GPs and ambulance paramedics during Covid-19. It has since evolved with healthcare professionals using it to receive advice and guidance from clinicians across many specialties.
A GP or paramedic can make a phone call or send a message in the app. Phone calls are connected on average in 25 seconds to a specialist. This access to immediate advice prevents patients from being referred to hospital unnecessarily and also ensures they get sent to the right department if they need further treatment first time.
The tech in numbers:
- Over 32,000 calls were placed via the tech in Wales in 2022, with 58% of patients avoiding an unnecessary visit to hospital
- 74% of those calls were answered first time
- In August 2023 a record 9,171 calls were made across the seven health boards
Jane Whalley, Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Service Manager, in Hywel Dda University Health Board said: “Before Consultant Connect a lot of calls we would get via reception would see patients being referred to specialist services unnecessarily. Many of these patients could have been treated at primary care level. Now, with Consultant Connect, for those patients who aren’t suitable for a referral, we can share relevant information and tailored resource packages to support them with the next step of their care.
“The service via Consultant Connect has enabled us to have a dedicated staff member to answer calls from practitioners about patients before a potential referral. We can screen those who are appropriate for the service and offer support for those who aren’t. We can give general advice and guidance for those referrals and ascertain more information as needed.
“This is so beneficial for the patients as it puts them at the heart of the conversation as opposed to passing them onto another service. The patient receives person-centred support, tailored just for them.”
“As healthcare providers, we’re learning how to use technology to improve outcomes for patients and we’ll continue to grow as the service grows.”
Consultant Connect technology is also being piloted in a care home in Swansea Bay with the aim of reducing the number of 999 calls made by connecting care home workers to GPs.
Alastair Roeves, National Clinical Lead for Primary Care & Community Care for Wales said: “The role out of Consultant Connect technology across the whole of Wales has been a great success and I’m delighted the partnership will continue. All health boards in Wales and the Welsh Ambulance Service now have access to rapid advice and guidance over the phone or by message.
“Our focus going forward is to strengthen the role of Consultant Connect in supporting those specialties with the longest waiting lists, and to offer additional support for healthcare professionals working in pharmacies and care homes. We want to continue improving patient care by making it so much easier for clinicians to communicate more effectively and efficiently just when their patients need them to. ”