Consultant Connect (CC) is a smart communication application (app) which used to allow GPs to gain direct access to secondary care colleagues, avoiding the use of hospital switchboards or bleep services. CC was commissioned across NHS Wales by Welsh Government (WG) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic with health boards allowed to introduce it at their own pace. In order to assess the impact of the Consultant Connect service, WG approached Cedar to carry out an independent evaluation of the programme. The primary aims of the agreed evaluation were to understand the impact of CC on service delivery, and identify learning points for future development/procurement purposes using a mixed methods approach including stakeholder feedback, process data and economic modelling.
The health economic analysis demonstrates that there are possible cost savings to be found from avoided referrals and admissions. Overall, the system was viewed as having significant potential to improve communications, experience and outcomes, but with an acknowledgement across primary and secondary care staff that this potential has not yet been realised. A number of potential improvements were identified which are detailed and may improve usability and scope for evaluation.