Technology from telemedicine provider Consultant Connect has been adopted across NHS Lanarkshire Health Board, following a successful three-day trial with the Scottish Ambulance Service.

The Consultant Connect app aims to connect Scottish Ambulance paramedics in Lanarkshire with local A&E consultants within four seconds via the ‘call before convey’ pathway to enable access to rapid, specialist advice for patients with non-life-threatening conditions.

Clinicians at the Scottish Ambulance Service can use the app to direct patients to the most suitable care – such as specific units or self-care advice – helping to free up busy A&E departments, and ensure patients receive care in a timely fashion. Communication takes place via a phone call or secure and GDPR-compliant photo messages, or messages.

A&E consultants can also use the app to get advice from consultants working in other specialties to help ensure that patients receive the right care from the offset.

During the three-day pilot, which took place from 23 to 25 August 2023, there were 74 calls placed, which were answered in three seconds on average. As a result, four in five patients avoided unnecessary A&E admissions, with 60% of the patients being cared for in the community.

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.”

Jonathan Patrick, CEO of Consultant Connect, said: “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 gamechanger. 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.”

NHS Lanarkshire Consultant Connect is now using Consultant Connect as routine practice across NHS Lanarkshire. The ‘call Before convey’ project was formally adopted by NHS Lanarkshire on 1 November 2023.

Consultant Connect said that in 2023 150,000 elderly and frail patients were kept out of hospital by its technology, which has a dedicated acute frailty line for patients with particularly complex needs.