Livewell Southwest has been praised for its innovative project Doc2Doc which gives GPs quick and easy access to psychiatry advice, getting speedy support for patients and reducing the need for some referrals as a result.
Doc2Doc was co-designed by Livewell Southwest’s Community Mental Health Team and colleagues in primary care, and has quickly become established a way for GPs to get a quick response from psychiatrists for patient queries on issues such as medication or advice on helping their patients manage mental health issues, regardless of whether the person is a LSW patient or not.
All general practices within the catchment areas were sent details of Doc2Doc with an email address to send their queries into. These are then picked up and answered by LSW psychiatrists according to rota or clinical availability.
The project won top prize for innovation when it was presented at a regional Royal College of Psychiatrists conference.
Dr Alison Battersby, LSW consultant psychiatrist, said: “In designing the service we tried lots of different approaches including Skype but email was the method that was preferred as it was quick, easy, didn’t need a meeting set up and there was no cost. We set a target of responding within two working days and in the first nine months more than 85% queries were answered within that time.
“The Doc2Doc name reflects that sometimes quick access to a colleague in a speciality is just what’s needed to fill the gap. It’s a good example of LSW’s commitment to Quality Improvement, to improving communication between our specialties and strengthening our relationships in the system.”
In her presentation to the Royal College, Dr Fiona Kinnarney, higher trainee, said: “The Doc2Doc service is still in its infancy but showing positive signs of growth. It is an active, real life example of positive integrated work with Primary Care and partners are now planning to roll this project out across the region which highlights the importance of such Quality Improvement projects.
“More than 60 per cent of inquiries from GPs were medication-related questions. Resolving these successfully may have led to unnecessary referrals. This is far better for the patient as he or she is getting support in the right time in their community, and is also reducing pressure on the CMHT.
“We continue to identify and feedback what is considered to be appropriate and inappropriate in terms of the nature of the query as we gradually establish a more refined system. We have received positive feedback from GP colleagues which helps to reaffirm working relationships and build connections for our services.”