I joined Connect in June for two weeks while on my Work Experience, and from the moment I arrived I was made to feel right at home.
It was quite a daunting prospect joining a business of this size, but the community atmosphere and warm faces soon made me feel completely at ease. As I began to understand and get to grips with how Connect operated and went about achieving their objectives, I became totally captivated. From the first point of contact (the Referral Management Centre) all the way across the board to where the most senior decisions were made, a truly engaged, focussed and dynamic work environment had been built. It may sound cliché but the team felt more like a community of driven, like-minded members than it did a mere workforce. What Connect seem to have mastered is the understanding that all employees must be working in the same direction as each other, in order to provide the level of quality across the service that their patients have come to expect.
Connect’s healthy, welcoming work atmosphere may seem like a separate, cherry-on-top type bonus, irrelevant to the company’s success, but in truth it is this awareness of what makes people happy, comfortable and fulfilled in the workplace that is emulated in the exquisite service that their patients receive. Considering how rapidly Connect has grown in recent years it is remarkable how effectively a shared culture and ambition has endured.
My first experience of Connect was through shadowing their Referral Management Centre.
What struck me here was not only the calming influence the communicators had on their callers in making them feel respected and listened to, but also the impressive response times and clear initiatives to encourage and improve efficiency through their procedures. Customer care is clearly well prioritised, achieved through the short waiting times and the ability to quickly transfer a patient to the necessary next stop, whether it’s booking them in with a GP, referring them to the in-house physiotherapists or just a matter of general clarification, ensuring that the patient is fully aware and in control of their care.
From a business perspective, what is done here in the RMC is vital to Connect, as they are able to provide rapid response times to patients, and send them off to the next step with ease, it may seem simple but within the health industry, such a process gives the business a distinct unique selling point against competitors.
Following this, I was given a glimpse of Connect’s infamous Business Intelligence centre. I was blown away by the sheer mass of data that was collected here, varying from physio performance to the efficiency of RMC referrals. For example, data tables showing the level of improvement before and after physio treatment (obtained through 5 questions at the beginning and after) thus showing Connect which clinicians receive the best results, but also the effectiveness of varying treatment methods that can then be shared from the clear results obtained.
The average patient satisfaction rating across all services is 9.3 out of 10
The department has enabled Connect to really push on across the business, proving to be particularly effective in presenting and showcasing Connect in the procurement process when going up for new contracts, whether it be the NHS, as well as the occupational health services .
The central theme and commitment within the department focusses on improving the efficiency of their systems through keeping a clear log of patients on the system accounted for, but while always maintaining focus on the ultimate aim in all of this, cutting the patient wait times and providing a high quality service. It was very interesting to see how vital Business Intelligence is not just in keeping the business ticking over and performing, but also indirectly ensuring the quality of service the patients receive.
What was certainly noticeable to me was the importance of Connect’s values (People Centred, Pioneering, Dynamic, Quality), and how well they had been internalised and integrated into day to day activity.
I was fortunate enough to sit in on some of the interviews during the first week, whereby the basis and structure consisted of testing the interviewee’s application of these values. It was fascinating to see that for Connect these values weren’t just for show on the walls, they formed the criteria for the hiring of new staff. This is demonstrative of Connect’s approach to care. What was important to the two interviewers was the ability to show commitment to working together in a commune rather than being overly individualistic, as well as being able to indicate a clear understanding of the business’ goals.
In summary, what I believe separates Connect from the rest is its ongoing reinvestment into the quality of the service they provide.
During my second week I observed one of Connect’s Accelerated Development Programmes (ADP’s), and was so impressed by the methodology behind it. These sessions allowed the physiotherapists to enhance their skills and knowledge at no extra cost to them, to help assist them provide a quality, contemporary service. While this was the most obvious demonstration of Connect investing in quality service, it happens everywhere. Constantly data is being collected, meetings are being held, and KPI’s are being set, all with the direct aim of cutting down patient waiting times and delivering the best possible service. This conclusion is mirrored in Dr Tom Aslan’s words, who has worked with Connect over the last 5 years as a member of the Camden CCG:
“I like their approach, it isn’t all about making money – they bring ideas, innovation and are constantly looking at different ways to provide effective service.”