The E-Patients Using Phones to Call for Change

Many Pain Points Still Need Treatment


Virtual GP services began to be discussed as early as the year 2000, and health advice is now the second-most searched for topic online. But are the realities of the concept shaping up to our dreams for this new model of care?

We're often advertised the benefits of app-based health services as the answer to long waiting times and a busy lifestyle. However, some — including the regulatory Care Quality Commission — have voiced concerns over more-apparent differences to traditional options, such as a lack of continuity of care, fears about data protection and the possibility of improper monitoring in the longer term or missed drug contraindications. Many simple check-ups need person-to-person interaction, the absence of which could lead to missed symptoms and inappropriate prescriptions.

But deeper problems are now becoming evident as health-related technology sees wider recognition and adoption.

In the UK, such medical apps are increasing pressure and problems for the National Health Service (NHS), with current funding methods unfairly benefitting brick-and-mortar facilities that also offer app integration. One such example is London's Lillie Road practice, which provides traditional GP services alongside free app-based consultations via NHS-affiliated GP at Hand.

The NHS contributes a set amount of money per patient to surgeries, with the cost of treating chronically ill or elderly patients usually subsidised by the funding received for healthy individuals who seldom make visits.

However, facilities offering app-based services are attracting a high number of young, tech-savvy individuals, who typically fall within this generally healthy group. Nearly 80 percent of Lillie Road's patients, for instance, are between the ages of 20 and 39, and only 1 percent over 70 years old. The modernisation of amenities is pushing particularly older patients to other surgeries, putting disproportionate financial strain on these practices.

It may appear that these apps are at least able to free up GP time so that unwell individuals can secure face-to-face appointments more quickly. However, fast and easy access to medical professionals through mobile phones is leading relatively healthy patients to use these services more often, meaning that GPs are instead experiencing a heavier workload.

Paid-for apps such as Push Doctor are also affecting public health service staffing, with about 7,000 NHS GPs registered on its system as practitioners look to supplement their earnings.

One straightforward solution would be to ultimately deal with all triage cases and mild illnesses using artificial intelligence to analyse symptoms data and offer advice about treatment routes or at-home self-care methods. But the cost of developing and integrating this technology into existing systems, particularly for an organisation as technologically fragmented as the NHS, would be substantial. The King's Fund think tank additionally notes that the NHS is poor at adopting innovations, with annual spending on the propagation of new technologies at just £50 million of the £125 billion planned spending by the Department of Health in England in fiscal 2017/18.

Virtual consultation services could eventually allow for faster and more convenient access to healthcare advice: GP at Hand offers online appointments within two hours, and the Lillie Road clinic jumped from a little under 5,000 to just over 19,000 patients in three months — a staggering nearly fourfold jump in capacity and demand. A current average of 80 percent of appointments are closed entirely online, keeping these patients out of physical establishments.

But the incompatibility with traditional services now being recognised is likely to take years to navigate. Further diagnosis and treatment remains essential.

Sign up to our free Daily Insight service here.

This entry was posted on March 14th, 2018 and is filed under Services. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed or you can leave a response.

Posted By Katie Taylor On March 14th, 2018


Comments
(There are no comments yet)
Leave a Comment

Hot News

Team Tweets

CCS Insight
Completion of the specification for standalone #5G is a major milestone, but the mobile industry must temper expect… https://t.co/CcdtAIY4yx
Follow CCS Insight
Shaun Collins
RT @mobileworldlive: #China regulator #MIIT pledges timely #5G licence issue @Huawei @CCSInsight https://t.co/LI62PeOQaf
Follow Shaun
Ben Wood
Full @EE smart home portfolio now officially launched. Products from Apple, Google, Hive, Honeywell, Logitech, Nest… https://t.co/RVM3zt0Rvr
Follow Ben
Martin Garner
@Telefonica new Movistar Home, a sort-of Echo Look competitor. "Re-defining the home phone". Neat integration with… https://t.co/NJclCfJbNA
Follow Martin
Marina Koytcheva
@NetgemUK Many thanks for the invitation! Unfortunately I won't be able to join, but wish you good luck at the launch!
Follow Marina
Nicholas McQuire
@jlesaicherre @myrstad Correct. It’s mainly the consumer app used for work purposes.
Follow Nicholas
Paolo Pescatore
@bassilelkadi @Qualcomm @QCTonyOC @Bernard_P @ConorCampbell How about an analyst family party for the #WorldCup final
Follow Paolo
Angela Ashenden
@salesforce buyers may still come from sales/Service LOB, but increasing shift to seeing sales / Service Cloud as t… https://t.co/o1Aum8tNS4
Follow Angela
Kester Mann
RT @CCSInsight: Completion of the specification for standalone #5G is a major milestone, but the mobile industry must temper expectations:…
Follow Kester
George Jijiashvili
@anshelsag Did you leave the Master AI on or off?
Follow George
Laura Simeonova
RT @benwood: P20 devices testament to Huawei's ambition in smartphone market. Consistently improving design, capabilities and appeal of its…
Follow Laura
Katie Taylor
A really interesting look at the inefficiencies of the human body https://t.co/RqdDBzDVQ7
Follow Katie

Recent Blog Posts

Blog Post
5G Can Stand Alone Standalone 5G Specifications Approved by 3GPP Not long ago,... Read more
Blog Post
Microsoft Targets Amazon's Sweet Spot Its New Technology Could Allow Retailers to Build Checkout-F... Read more
Blog Post
Robots to the Rescue Airbus Employs Robots to Speed Up Its Production Rate For y... Read more
More blog

Latest Company News

Blog Post
Angela Ashenden Joins CCS Insight to Lead Business Collaboration Research Enterprise Research Coverage Continues to Expand ... Read more
More news