Forget waiting for weeks on end for appointments, and having to take time of work to see your doctor, there are now ways that you can access your doctor almost any time of day, seven days a week. Digital doctors are taking over the UK giving patients access to their services through a smart device.
Babylon is probably the most used Online GP service and is in partnership with the NHS to offer a ‘GP at Hand’. The app can be downloaded on your smart device and takes less than a minute to register. Although Babylon/NHS GP at Hand is currently only available to those who live or work in Zones 1 – 3 in London, there are plenty of private GP’s UK wide, taking advantage of the spike in interest surrounding online appointments.
The idea and interest spiked initially when Jeremy Hunt announced that all GPs must give online access to patients including online appointment booking systems and access to repeat prescriptions by 2015. Since this has become available nationally, the interest in online GP appointments has increased by 54%.
PushDoctor is the most popular private online GP available in the UK, it allows you to access a doctor day or night, but at a cost. It’s £1 for your first appointment, £14 for your second with prescriptions available via email for the first time ever, at an additional cost of £4.50. Although PushDoctor is private it is an NHS funded app that plans to work more closely with the free healthcare sector in the future.
Is it really up to scratch though compared to face to face appointments? 60% of online appointment users have claimed that their issue was resolved during their online appointments, the other 40% needing physical assessment in person consequently booking in at their local surgery.
Although over half of patients were satisfied with their online appointments, there is still a huge percentage of the UK who rely heavily on their local GP to provide appointments. Some are seeking answers in desperation from A&E due to restricted access by their registered practice on weekends and evenings, causing a surge in over crowed waiting areas and unnecessarily long waiting times.
Overall, we think that the interest in digital doctors will continue to increase and could be a positive step forward in preventing the overcrowding and reduce wait times for patients to access their doctors.