A better patient journey and a gold-winning formula

The aggregation of marginal gains helped Team GB to earn their greatest haul of cycling gold medals at the 2012 Olympics.   Now “Team HCML” is using a similar formula to set new standards for patient turnaround results.  Gareth Davies, our Head of Treatment Services, explains how HCML is gunning to be the first choice of provider in this busy end of the market.

I’m a huge believer in continuous improvement, in every corner of business, and in never resting on our laurels.  So when Sir David Brailsford, former coach for the GB cycling team, puts its meteoric performance rise down to the aggregation of marginal gains across training, recovery and diet, it struck a chord.

We apply this principle to everything we do, looking to shave weeks, days and even minutes off our turnaround times by looking at every aspect of a case and finding new improved ways to do things quicker.

When we launched our comprehensive one stop Treatment Service to insurers and claimant solicitors to co-ordinate hospital consultant appointments, surgery and diagnostic treatments, our commercial director Ben Dawson promised we would deliver a faster, cheaper, better patient journey with savings of over 10 per cent in treatment management costs.

On cost savings, we proved Ben wrong.  We blew his target out of the sky.  We have delivered savings on average between 15 to 20 per cent, occasionally even rising to 50 per cent.

But we have also delivered faster, better patient journeys by using our knowledge of the process to iron out every typical inefficiency in an inherently inefficient UK healthcare system.  We have used our knowledge of how UK health provision works to be an influence for good, particularly on communications.

So for instance we have taken a typical area of confusion – the sharing of records between GPs and hospital consultants – to eradicate the problems that can so often result in cancelled or delayed appointments.

Every day our staff use their knowledge of how information flows through the tangled UK healthcare web - NHS, private sector, primary and secondary care - where postal service vagaries, antiquated fax machines and antiquated processes disrupt the smooth, sequential care patients should expect.  We know how easily a lost fax or letter can delay time-sensitive treatment, so we deliver the follow-through to work around that and keep care on track.

In reality, keeping care on track boils down to a lot of small interventions that add up to make a big difference. This focus on marginal gains means that patients are seen quicker and insurers and solicitors can pay less for a better service.

But our vision is to do even better, with new technology.  We are poised to launch a new platform to streamline clients’ administration with a one-stop service to run alongside our national Innotrex network for physiotherapy and psychotherapy treatments. It will make referrals easier for clients and give them instant access to updates and downloadable patient documents and to improved portals.

We have proven that patient rehabilitation can be proactively managed by one team instead of using numerous treatment providers, and when you apply the HCML formula of improving many small things, and shaving off a few seconds here and there, the results could be to save days in the patient journey and that can make a big difference.

In the last 18 months our referral volumes have doubled, and our approach has earned us a reputation for complaint-free customer service and proactivity.  We attribute this to the loyalty of the clinicians and clinics in our network responding to our ethical supplier policies by giving our patients the platinum service they know we expect.  They use their quality ethics and expertise to give our patients the most appropriate treatment first time, every time, which also cuts delays and costs.

Our Treatment Services team in Bristol has grown to 14 since it was created in 2017 and it is set to double its income to £5m by 2020.

I’ve been running treatment services teams for over a decade now and it was HCML’s vision and approach that enticed me to join them.

HCML is the UK’s most established rehabilitation company, and a market-leader in multi-track. Yet it behaves like a start-up being very progressive and forward thinking, embracing innovation and this makes it a very exciting place to work.

Like my colleagues I believe that if you get the technology right, and your people relationships right – with both clients and suppliers - and you apply your professional skills to ensure patients get the right treatment at the right time without fail, then you are aggregating your marginal gains, and giving your personal best every day.

As we predicted would happen, other rehabilitation companies have appointed us to deliver these services for them because of our consistency in applying our winning formula.   Our mission is to do even more and set the standard that our rivals can aspire to.