Welsh health boards renew telemedicine technology contract, supporting healthcare professionals and reducing pressure on services
The rollout of Consultant Connect technology across Wales has prevented more than 18,000 patients visiting hospital unnecessarily.
All seven health boards in Wales and the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust all use the software, making Wales the first country to offer access to all NHS clinicians.
Consultant Connect technology was first adopted in Wales in 2020 to support GPs and ambulance paramedics during the COVID-19 pandemic.
And it has since evolved, with healthcare professionals using it to receive advice and guidance from clinicians across many specialties.
Before Consultant Connect a lot of calls we would get via reception would see patients being referred to specialist services unnecessarily
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.
During 2022, the technology was found to have prevented more than 18,000 unnecessary hospital visits.
Other findings include:
Jane Whalley, perinatal and infant mental health service manager at 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 also 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.”
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
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 and community care for Wales, said: “The rollout 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. ”