Medics in front of ambulance talking to headquarters using radio

Technology from leading telemedicine provider Consultant Connect has been rolled out across Lanarkshire to help patients with non-life-threatening conditions avoid unnecessary A&E admissions.

This health-tech connects Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) paramedics in the Lanarkshire area with local A&E consultants via the ‘Call Before Convey’ pathway within four seconds. The tech has been rolled out to help paramedics who need rapid specialist advice when seeing patients with non-life-threatening conditions. This often results in patients being directed to the most suitable place, such as specific units, or providing self-care advice that allows them to bypass A&E departments altogether.

A&E consultants can also use the Consultant Connect App to get advice from consultants in other specialties. This ensures a patient’s condition is considered holistically and they get given the right care first time.

During a three day pilot programme, SAS clinicians were asked to use the Consultant Connect App to contact local A&E consultants with patients suitable for the pathway. 74 calls were placed and answered in an average of just three seconds. This led to four in five patients avoiding unnecessary A&E admissions. 60% of these patients were cared for in the community, meaning they did not need to be conveyed to hospital. 

Following the success of the pilot, Consultant Connect’s technology has been adopted as routine practice for the pathway across NHS Lanarkshire, and is now the first port of call when SAS crew see patients with non-life-threatening conditions. More than 1,500 calls have already been made since the start of the project, 65% of these avoiding an unnecessary A&E admission.

This roll out comes at an important time for NHS Scotland. One in 20 patients spent more than 12 hours at A&E as of the end of March. This service goes a long way in reducing the pressure on A&E consultants and ensures that patients get the right care first time.

Jonathan Patrick, CEO of Consultant Connect, said: “We are delighted that the ‘Call Before Convey’ pilot has had the impact we hoped for. Consultant Connect’s platform has shown across the UK that, when clinicians talk with each other, patients get better care faster. By making it “business as usual”, Lanarkshire is hard-wiring better care in to their local area. 

Of course, for paramedics working in rural areas, this is a game changer. Rather than making unnecessary trips to and from hospital, patients can get the most appropriate care and paramedics can react more quickly to the next call. NHS Lanarkshire deserves an enormous amount of credit for being at the forefront of healthcare technology and making patients their priority.”

Dr Gordon McNeish, Emergency Medicine Consultant and Project Lead at NHS Lanarkshire Health Board, said: “We have been working with Consultant Connect for the last few years to improve patient experience, offering professional-to-professional contact for Scottish Ambulance Service clinicians to speak to A&E consultants within our three acute hospitals in Lanarkshire.  

“The project looks to increase the usage of this service by encouraging paramedics to discuss most non-life-threatening cases with a dedicated A&E consultant. They can also access other community services and pathways that are all aimed at keeping a patient at home where appropriate.  

“We are keen to build this service and develop our relationship with the SAS so that this becomes part of normal business. Ultimately, patients can benefit from rapid access to senior advice and A&E hopefully has less patients waiting to be seen.”