This month we were lucky enough to catch up with Dr Bethan George, a recently qualified GP who works in Stroud, Gloucestershire. We took the opportunity to ask her a few questions about her experiences of using Cinapsis.
Read on to learn how the SmartReferrals platform has shaken up her patient referrals for the better, and why she believes that it could be the key to bridging the growing chasm between primary and secondary care professionals.
How long has Cinapsis been used in your GP practice?
How are you using the platform in your day-to-day work?
Initially it was mainly a tool I used to access advice on dermatological conditions - I would send photographs to specialists and receive really fast responses. I still use it for that purpose, but I also really love the new features and expanded use options which have been recently added to the platform. If I ever encounter an urgent case in which the patient requires hospital admission, I will use Cinapsis to access advice. It always works really well.
I also use it in the out-of-hours setting for patients who are not my normal registered patients. In fact, recently I got out-of-hours advice from a Trauma and Orthopaedics consultant regarding a gentleman who had sustained a lower limb fracture abroad. I was concerned that the treatment regime they had given him abroad didn’t fit with NHS guidelines, but of course this wasn’t a case I would normally deal with - it would normally be seen in a fracture clinic.
But I was able to rapidly initiate a discussion with a Trauma and Orthopaedics consultant, and he was able to tell me exactly what the protocol was. Together we made sure that the patient’s condition was managed safely.
Do you have other examples of how Cinapsis has helped you to treat a patient?
Cinapsis allows me to access rapid management advice for patients suffering with dermatological conditions. Without the app, these patients would have to wait for weeks to be seen in a clinic, on account of the long waiting times.
For example, when I recently encountered a patient with Alopecia (which is obviously a very distressing condition) I was able to send images and case details across to a consultant and then start the patient on a course of oral steroids in just 24 hours. This was really significant, because often patients have to wait up to two months for an initial clinic assessment - by which time it might be too late to do anything. The patient felt much better supported thanks to Cinapsis, and he psychologically benefited from the reduction in anxiety and delay in treatment.
How does Cinapsis directly benefit you as a GP?
Cinapsis definitely delivers more confidence to me as a GP. This is because if there’s something I'm not completely comfortable with, I know that I can reach out for that advice and reassurance from an expert. It means that my patients can access the highest standard of care at all times.
Using Cinapsis also saves me a great deal of time during the working day. If I want to speak to a consultant I no longer have to call a switchboard and be kept on hold for ages whilst juggling my own busy clinic. With Cinapsis there’s only been one time when I’ve not been connected within 3 minutes.
This means that I can make calls safely in my surgery time; I don’t have to delay everyone else. And because it is easier to access the support, I’m far more likely to ask for that advice, meaning that my patients are receiving a better, safer service.
And how about Cinapsis for dermatology, is that quicker for you than other referral platforms?
Cinapsis e-Opinion is not only much quicker, but the platform is much more user-friendly than the other advice and guidance service that my surgery uses. Rather than wait for the response from the doctor, the Cinapsis app will send out a notification when the message arrives - meaning that no time is wasted in checking my messages.
Which features of Cinapsis do you employ most regularly?
The image sharing and the consultant opinion features are both probably the ones I use most regularly. Often it's to see if I can find a better, more time-efficient way of admitting the patient. For example - could they be seen in an urgent clinic or on the acute medical admissions unit rather than going via the A&E.
I’ve been sending far fewer patients to A&E since I began using Cinapsis regularly, because I’ve been able to find a more appropriate pathway which I wouldn't have otherwise known about.
How has your use of Cinapsis changed since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic?
Of course there has been a real drive to treat patients remotely, so I've certainly used Cinapsis far more to access advice since the start of the pandemic. In my GP practice I think that Cinapsis has really become embedded in our daily routine, thanks to our everyday use of the platform. Some of my colleagues are normally rather resistant to adopting new technology, but everybody’s really come on board with Cinapsis.
And finally, how important is it to you to have barrier-free communication with your colleagues in secondary care?
It's really important: over recent years, many channels of communication have broken down for various reasons, and that’s been a serious issue for us.
Some of my colleagues - those who are closer to retirement - are all on first-name terms with all the hospital specialists, because they either studied with them, went to medical school with them, or have worked alongside them for decades. However, the newer doctors haven’t had the same opportunities to build those important relationships, and so find it harder to collaborate with the secondary care clinicians.
What I’ve been noticing recently is that Cinapsis is allowing me to develop a productive professional relationship with the specialists who provide the advice and guidance to me.
It's great to get the sense that everyone's working towards the same goal, and that we are bridging the gap between GP surgeries and hospitals. Thanks to the phone calls and video calls, I feel that if I were to bump into one of these doctors at an event then we would recognise each other and have an in-person conversation!
Thanks for chatting to us Dr George! Keep an eye out for more Cinapsis Q&As with healthcare professionals over the coming months...