New ‘app’ gives GPs in Hertfordshire instant access to hospital consultant advice

The ‘Consultant Connect’ pilot began across Hertfordshire and West Essex last month

Monday, 29th November 2021, 9:20 am

GPs across Hertfordshire are now able to access instant advice from hospital consultants – with the help of an ‘app’.

The ‘Consultant Connect’ pilot began across Hertfordshire and West Essex last month (October).

It is a secure platform which enables photos and other documents to be shared between clinicians to help them make treatment decisions.

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And it enables GPs to rapidly connect with a consultant – or other healthcare professional – from a particular speciality, locally or nationally.

That access to specialist advice means that in some cases a patients’ symptoms can be managed safely – and more quickly – by their GP.

And evidence already suggests that it has cut the number of hospital referrals and the need for admission.

With hospital waiting times at a record high nationally, there are hopes that it could impact on waiting lists too.

“We began using Consultant Connect in October,” said Dr Rachel Joyce, who is director of Clinical and Professional Services for the Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care System.

“We hope it will significantly cut waiting times for specialist clinical advice, giving patients instant reassurance and helping them to avoid the inconvenience of an unnecessary hospital visit.

“This approach should also mean that consultants can devote more of their clinic time to those patients who really need their expert help.”

By the end of the first month of operation, data from West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) suggests that 61 per cent of calls made through ‘Consultant Connect’ avoided a referral – and six per cent an admission to hospital.

And latest data from Herts Valleys CCG suggests that 41 per cent of calls from Herts Valleys GPs have avoided a referral.

The use of the app was highlighted in a written report at a joint meeting of the East and North Herts, Herts Valleys and West Essex CCGs on Thursday, November 25.