A 24-hour service, called GP at Hand, has been launched for NHS patients in order to offer GP consultations via videolink on smartphones.
We have all heard about the many ways that technology is transforming healthcare, but in comparison to other industries such as shopping and banking, it seems the digital world of healthcare has been moving at a much slower pace. With the majority of people still relying on a frantic morning phone call to their GP surgery and the average wait to see a GP being two weeks or more, the NHS are now testing a new service to help improve the system.
GP at Hand works by enabling patients to arrange a video appointment with their GP through their smartphone. The service is completely free, and was launched a few weeks ago by a group of London GP’s and the online healthcare provider Babylon. It aims to dramatically cut down waiting times for an appointment from a few weeks to just a matter of hours.
With the ability to FaceTime friends and family who may be on the other side of the world, the ability to have a video consultation with a doctor within minutes seems like a fair request and can allow for early diagnosis, so problems can be taken care of before they get any worse. New technologies like this could not only improve free NHS services for the patients, but could also help free up staff time.
Digital innovation is not without its concerns.
The Royal College of GP’s believe that the new service may only be of interest to a younger, healthier generation and not those with complex health conditions. Conditions such as frailty, pregnancy and mental health conditions are simply not eligible for this service and will still require face to face interaction.
There are also worries that the new service will break down the traditional relationship between GP and patient, reducing the quality and continuity of care that we get through doctors surgeries. However, GP at Hand have strongly denied that care would be compromised in any way.
As technology advances in so many different aspects of life, changing the way we shop or handle our money, it makes sense to bring these ideas into helping our healthcare services advance too. From admin to diagnostics to medical monitoring, technology could see some real savings in time and money for the NHS.