Kinesis – Assisting the NHS and International healthcare systems to manage the Covid-19 Pandemic

THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON GP-HOSPITAL REFERRALS IN THE UK

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic over the last 18 months.   Both hospitals and primary care services have had to adjust rapidly in order to manage the large influx of patients suffering with Covid-19 symptoms, and this has had a major impact on the experiences of other patients waiting to be seen for non-Covid related health issues.

During the long period of the peak of the pandemic, most primary care services were compelled to cease face-to-face appointments, while many secondary care providers were forced to cancel all non-urgent operations and advised to attempt to free up a third of their bed capacity.  This meant that many patients were discharged back into the community with incomplete care pathways.  

This has been highlighted by the NHS ‘Referral to Treatment (RTT)’ data released in November 2020, which revealed that over 192,000 patients had been waiting for treatment for over than a year and that there are currently at least 4.2 million patients in the UK who are waiting to begin treatment.

The pandemic has been directly responsible for many NHS Trusts experiencing the longest waiting lists they have ever had to deal with.   For example, Hull University Teaching Hospital currently has one of the longest waiting lists in the UK, with over 60,000 patients having at least a one year wait to begin treatment.   One clinical professional has suggested that,

We are talking about a process that’s going to take years, not months to resolve.  Coronavirus has shown us how close to capacity we already were, so the pandemic has knocked us further back.’

HOW KINESIS HAS HELPED IN REDUCING GP-HOSPITAL REFERRALS DURING COVID

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, the need to reduce the number of referrals from GP’s to hospital outpatients has increased dramatically.   As GP’s soon became unable to refer their patients for hospital appointments, it quickly became apparent that they required greater support from clinical specialists to continue providing a high level of care in a local setting.

The graph below demonstrates the impact the Kinesis Referrals Avoidance Platform has had throughout the pandemic, with usage of the system increasing quickly after March 2020 when the UK Government instructed hospitals to cancel all non-essential outpatient appointments in order to manage the growing influx of patients affected by Covid-19.

Looking at the number of avoided referrals across 2019 and 2020 below, we see a similar pattern.  As the number of patient-related message has risen, so has the number of avoided referrals.

HOW GP’s ARE USING THE KINESIS REFERRALS AVOIDANCE PLATFORM FOR ADVANTAGE

The pandemic has rapidly accelerated the need for digital health and has demonstrated that there are better ways of managing patients than through the traditional GP-outpatients referrals process.

It is increasingly evident that primary care will have to rapidly change the way it manages patients locally, with much less access to secondary care appointments and specialists, and it is more important than ever that systems such as Kinesis can be implemented quickly and effectively.

Dr Morag Lenman, GP at Balham Park, a user of the Kinesis Referrals Avoidance Platform states that:

I started using the Kinesis platform three years ago and it has transformed my practice as a GP.  I believe it will be more crucial than ever in 2021 with increases in hospital waiting times as a result of the covid pandemic.   Very often, a patient does not need a hospital referral, they can be managed in primary care with some advice from a specialist.   With waiting times for some specialities now reaching beyond 6 months, it makes good sense to get specialist input as quickly as possible.

Before Kinesis, getting advice from a specialist was difficult. It involved going through hospital switchboard and then you would eventually get through to one of the junior doctors on the team, who may well have less experience than you do in the field.  Now, I can choose the consultant I trust in the appropriate field, send a query (often with attached photo of a skin lesion or an ECG) and know I will get a reply within 48 hours, so I can even book a follow up call with the patient a few days later. 

Everyone wins.  As a local GP, I win because I am giving a better, quicker service to my patients. Patients love it as they get swift specialist input without having to go to the hospital. Specialists should also be keen as it is an easy way to cut down GP referrals and chip away at long waiting lists.

SUMMARY

The Kinesis Referrals Avoidance platform has enabled primary care clinicians across the UK to continue providing a high level of care in the community throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and the system has become the ‘go-to’ process for ensuring that NHS hospital capacity is not exceeded.

In the UK, we have seen that primary care as delivered by local GP’s has shifted to a new model of total triage and using digital platforms as a key part of treatment.   Likewise, outpatient services are now using technology in radically new ways, with unprecedented reductions in acute activity. 

As seen here in the UK and across the world, Covid-19 is an ever-changing virus and we must ensure constant adaptation to ensure that our health care systems are able to cope with its demands.

CONTACT US

Please contact us if you would like to know more about how the Kinesis Referrals Avoidance platform can help your health service to better manage patient demand during and after Covid.

Kinesis UK Contact Information

Email: ben.harrison@kinata.co.uk
Phone: +44 8916 24419

Kinesis Australia Contact Information

Email: brentknevett@forsius.com.au
Phone: 0438 361 997

Ben

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