Primary Care News

Interview Series: Dr Hussain Gandhi, Wellspring Surgery and founder of eGPlearning

In our latest interview, we had a chat with Dr Hussian Gandhi to find out more about the health tech revolution in primary care.  

Can you tell me about yourself and your organisation? 

I’m a GP at St Anns in Nottingham, I’m a partner at a practice called Wellspring Surgery, I’m also a GP trainer, and I have been for 5 years now. In addition, one of the main roles I do is a tech one; I run eGPlearning, which is a platform rather than a company but it is basically my method of supporting GPs with enhanced primary care and learning basically with a view that tech for many GPs is a little scary because it just is; I try to simplify that by making it as easy as possible and also to share what opportunities are around. 

I’m a national representative to the RCGP Council, and a local representative to our local LMC and I am the treasurer of a group called GP Survival, which is an online group trying to support GPs with contractual and non-contractual issues; we are not a union however, we are a support group. 

I am also a clinical director of Nottingham City East PCN, which covers about 69,000 patients in the City of Nottingham and that covers 7 practices in total, and I am also digital lead for Nottingham. 

Can you tell me about eGPlearning and what you are working on at the moment? 

It originally started as a dashboard website to reference things for people to use and consultations but it has grown to show the types of opportunities and tech that is around. 

More recently, it has been to help people with video consultations, which has been massive over the past 6 weeks or so, and I have experience doing and structuring video consultations in terms of the consultation skills in order to do them and also just simple hacks to make life easier for clinicians and for patients. 

I also have a lot of experience with doing social media; as many people know I’m a social media nut, I’m across every platform going. Particularly in terms of practices using social media which I know a lot of people don’t focus on but obviously to engage a lot of patients, it can provide real benefits.

In addition, it’s about sharing the actual opportunities of tech that exist; more recently people have moved to using more online resources, I also do a lot of stuff around video conferencing, app reviews, content creation and how practices can use tech to streamline how they work and just sharing more information and resources to help clinicians do that more effectively. 

We also do a podcast where for each podcast over a 24-hour period we get over 200 downloads, we’ve hit 30,000 downloads recently. We have adapted our direction with the podcast towards the vlog, so the YouTube Channel is what we focus on. 

A lot of stuff, myself and Andy are talking about is visual, as a result of that we’ve probably put a bit more emphasis on the video platform and that’s massively just exploded over the past few weeks. People are looking at for example guides on how to do things and that’s where video clearly has some benefit.     

What platform are you using in your practice for video consultations? 

We use SystmOne and I’ve been a massive SystmOne nut for many years now to the point where I actually run the SystmOne Facebook user group. A lot of the community use SystmOne in the country and we have almost 1500 members. 

In general, what impact has COVID had on health tech in primary care?  

My colleague Andy and myself call COVID the ultimate disruptor, is probably the best way to describe it. 

If you go back about two years, Babylon was seen as the disruptor to primary care, in terms of the model they brought – whether you see that as a positive or a negative is based on your perspective. 

COVID has come along and done more changes to primary care in the past 6 weeks, than has probably happened in the past 10 years. It is because primary care has had to shift, where a lot of this has been driven by primary care having to improve care to patients; keeping patients as well as staff safe, as a result of that we’ve seen a significant increased uptake in digital offer whether that’s online consultations, telephone consultations or video consultations, practices have had to do that to keep their staff and patients safe. 

It has also enabled the bureaucracy to go in order to enable that change; in primary care for reasonable significant change you’re looking at 1 to 2 years, almost every practice in the country has done that in the space of 4 weeks. Mind boggling when you think about it but this is why COVID is the ultimate disruptor.

We are still waiting to see what happens over the coming months and how this is going to impact particularly primary care which is the initial interface with patients for almost all their healthcare needs and that’s the real challenge and if we are looking at a long period, which unfortunately is what this is, 6 months if not a year before we get anywhere near back to what was normality, it is going to be different at the very least; that has some positives as it has increased digital uptake. Digital uptake has its challenges, many people struggle, and there’s the exclusion aspect of what digital can bring as well; what happens to those people that can’t get it through digital mediums as easy as the majority.  

What would you say are your top tips for anyone delivering video consultations?  

When we talk about video consultations, the first thing is to understand how it works in your practice, so definitely having an appreciation for the way you do video consultations. One of my main tips I give to people is to try and look at the camera rather than the screen; the reason being it improves your engagement with the patient. If you ever do a WhatsApp video call with family and friends, you tend to look at the screen and it isn’t long before people place the phone down and carry on like a telephone consultation, because you’re not actually engaging with the person and it’s very easy to do that; that’s part of the challenge. It becomes less of an engagement sometimes through video consultation. Looking at the camera, it is a media trick basically which improves engagement and empathy. 

For clinicians, my biggest tip is to use a headset, because when you don’t it makes the audio a lot more tricky; even though you are doing a video consultation, the audio is still a priority – if you can see but not hear, it isn’t going to go so well. It has added benefits in that it brings the microphone closer to you, the patient can hear you better, and you are less likely to hear the keyboard taps so that you can actually document the consultation during the consultation itself and navigate around the system more effectively because you are inhibited from restricting yourself because of the clicks of the keyboard. It does mean from the consultation flow; you can do things more effectively. 

What’s your go to entertainment at the moment? 

Depends on how long I’ve got. Family time is a massive thing, the kids need to sleep so that doesn’t always work when I’m available; the days are busy and the nights are slightly less so. YouTube is a great distractor I find, also being a content creator, I spend a lot of time on there but also, it’s a great way of spiralling out a few hours without even realising it. 

But my favourite one is definitely playing boardgames and a lot of my eGPlearners, will know that I’m a massive board game nut; I have several solo board games that you can just play by yourself so when everyone else is asleep and I can’t sleep, it’s a great way for me to unwind. 

My latest one I’ve been playing a lot is called Petrichor, it’s a medium weight game, not the kind of things you can just pick out of the box and have a go with, it does take a little bit of time. It’s a really pretty and slick game when it comes to mechanics. My other one is a card game called Star Realms and that’s one I play on my phone, so I don’t have to shuffle the cards as much. 

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given? 

The best advice I’ve ever received, but one which I’m worst at listening to is to learn to say “no”. I’ve a really bad habit of not saying “no” to certain things and that’s when things start crashing together at the same time which can lead to stress and frustration and all the other things. I’ve become better over time and prioritising my time as a result has become better but the best advice and the best tip I give to people is to learn to say “no”. 

Warren Buffett always commented that in life you should have 3 goals at any given time and if what you’re doing doesn’t align to those 3 goals, is it a priority and so if something doesn’t align to those 3 goals that I have it’s likely to be a “no”.