Connecting GPs in North West London ICS to rapid specialist advice

Case studies

Healthcare and medical concept

In response to the significant restrictions placed on elective care at the height of Covid-19 pandemic, Vantage was asked by two Trusts in North West London to adapt its Rego platform to enable GPs to obtain rapid access to Consultant advice and guidance across all specialties.

The phased implementation of Rego A&G across all practices in Brent, Harrow & Ealing and Hillingdon CCG enabled Consultants to triage over 40% of requests to be treated within primary care. 

Delighted our 2nd CCG @NHSHarrowCC went live today with @VantageHealthUK advice and guidance. Great tech and team effort between @LNWH_NHS and @NWLCCGs! Good tech = functional + delightful

Sonia Patel, CIO, NHSX

Challenge

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals were struggling to cope with the unprecedented demand for their services, with significant restrictions placed on elective care, leading to difficulties in patients getting the necessary treatment.

In response to this, Vantage was asked by two Trusts in North West London to adapt its Rego platform to enable GPs to obtain rapid access to Consultant advice and guidance across all specialties. 

The project was sponsored by Sonia Patel, former CIO of London NW & Hillingdon Hospitals trusts and included: Brent, Ealing, Harrow and Hillingdon CCGs, as well as Hillingdon Foundation Trust and London North West University Hospital Trust.  

Solution 

Vantage Health’s team worked with GPs, hospital consultants and managers to implement Rego, an AI platform with functionality that allows patient information to be sent from a GP, directly to an appropriate hospital consultant, with no paper or manual intervention; and to allow for the consultant to offer advice and guidance directly to the correct GP.

The service needed to connect over 200 practices with some 400 Consultant specialists. 

Engagement with these stakeholders was achieved in several ways: the first was addressing concerns of Consultants who were initially wary about giving advice electronically. 

Interoperability with existing systems such as eRS, EMIS, Systm One and hospital PAS and EPR platforms was also critical, as was configuring the security to allow clinicians to access the platform from home. Each of these required the Vantage Health team to work closely with the technical teams to quickly adapt the platform to meet these needs.

Integrating the service with GPs’ local practice patient record system enhanced clinical engagement as it provided them with easy access to information and avoided duplicating data entry, saving time. The Consultant screens were optimised to make the experience simple and fast.

Improved digital communication between primary and secondary care resulting in fewer inappropriate referrals

Minal Patel, Deputy CIO, NHS Trust 

Implementation 

A detailed plan was agreed between all stakeholders, including GPs, hospital consultants, the IT team and the CCG chairs, with a time frame of three months set for project completion. 

From April 2020, Rego A&G was rolled out in a phased implementation across all GP practices in Brent, Harrow & Ealing CCGs. Within weeks, the service was also implemented in Hillingdon CCG to connect local GPs to Hillingdon Health Trust and several community providers. 

Weekly review meetings allowed the team to track progress together with informal communications on a daily basis. Bespoke, targeted videos and guides were produced to explain the service, and to overcome the issue of not being able to conduct in-person training. This setup was essential during a crisis period, providing assurance to all stakeholders, and ensuring the necessary actions were taken, albeit in a more urgent time frame. 

Within four weeks, fifty practices were connected to Northwick Park Hospital. This allowed the hospital to remain fully functional during the remainder of the pandemic, to date. Within a further four weeks, another CCG and Hillingdon Hospital were fully connected and operational. The final two CCGs became operational during the following four weeks.

Results

  • Over 40% of patients avoided an outpatient appointment  
  • 72% of patients received advice within six hours 
  • 20,831miles of patient travel were saved from reduced outpatient attendance during the first three months 
  • GPs received advice or a referral from a specialist within 1.6 days of a request being made 
  • Removed the need for twenty clerical staff estimated for a manual process

Other technologies in the NHS have often been clunky and lagged behind industries by at least a decade. I am hoping that Rego is rolled out to all GPs

Dr Radhika Balu, GP Lead