Five minutes with Clare Lerway at Consultant Connect
Consultant Connect, a second-floor resident of OCFI, has developed a business idea that is dramatically reducing NHS costs. We spoke to Clare Lerway, Account Manager, to find out more…
Consultant Connect enables a GP to reach an appropriate local hospital specialist while the patient is in the room, allowing them to get expert advice in real time.
It works like this. Each surgery has their own access number. The GP dials a single number and selects the type of consultant they want to talk to. The software runs through the list of appropriate consultant direct dials in the local hospital until a phone is answered. Over seventy percent of the time, the call is answered by a relevant consultant, which means the GP can access on-the-spot advice and guidance for their patient. Clare says, “the improved decision-making process is better for the patient as they often don’t have to make unnecessary trips to hospital. In fact, 65% of GP calls made to consultants using this service avoid visits to hospitals, saving everyone a lot of time”.
The service is managed by the Consultant Connect team and sold through UK Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs.) It has now been taken up by fifty CCGs, which means Consultant Connect is servicing nearly a quarter of the UK population or 12.8 million patients.“Since the service launched in 2015, GPs from 2,000 surgeries across the UK have made more than 98,000 calls to local specialists to get expert advice on the best care for their patients.” says Clare.
Listen up, Jeremy Hunt. The impact could be huge. Consultant Connect estimates that GPs and consultants have already saved the NHS in excess of £7 million by ensuring patients get the right treatment first time. In addition, initial figures suggest that the Consultant Connect service could save the NHS a whopping £500 million each year if rolled out across the UK.
The fact that Consultant Connect has the potential to save the NHS millions means the business has grown so fast. The company was set up in March 2015 by five directors. They are now a team of fifteen and ever expanding. The Consultant Connect service mainly focuses on physical health but they are also making in-roads into what Clare calls “urgent health” or access to A&E. Staff now spend a lot of time servicing the existing contracts but are also developing new products.
This year, Consultant Connect will focus on growing their mental health service since this is a key area that GPs identify they would like help with the most. Mental health accounts for 23 percent of the burden of disease in the UK. Although the prevalence of illness isn’t increasing, the ability for individuals to cope with mental health problems is. It’s therefore a particularly efficient use of telephone advice and guidance. In fact, Consultant Connect has been providing a Mental Health Advice and Guidance service for GPs in Oxford since February 2016. This allows GPs with specific questions to talk directly to the Adult Mental Health team at Oxford Health. They now hope to expand this service to other regions.
The Consultant Connect team have also developed an exciting new feature for the Consultant Connect App called PhotoSAF – it allows GPs to take IG-compliant clinical photos securely and safely on their mobile phones, and send them to local specialists for advice.
Oh, and I nearly forgot to mention, Consultant Connect’s philanthropic service – Patient Connect. It allows patients suffering with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in Nottingham to have immediate access to members of the local hospital MND team. It is setting a new standard in patient care, allowing those with this complex disease to get direct advice from consultants over the phone instead of having to go to hospital. Great work, Consultant Connect.
If you want to find out more about Consultant Connect, visit: https://www.consultantconnect.org.uk
If you’d like to be interviewed for our head-to-head series, email Georgina Matthews on [email protected]