Employee travel to GP appointments cost UK businesses an estimated £1.5 billion in lost working time last year, says a report published by the health insurance firm AXA PPP Healthcare today.
The report, Digital health: the changing landscape of how we access GP services, produced by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), highlights the role that online GPs could play in boosting efficiencies across business and healthcare.
Researchers estimate that if virtual GP appointments had been offered as a first point of call across all public GP practices in 2019, face-to-face consultations could have been reduced by 50 million.
WHY IT MATTERS
The potential of remote health services has become more apparent in the COVID-19 pandemic. Statistics from the Royal College of General Practitioners found that, in the four weeks leading up to 12 April 2020, 71% of routine consultations in general practice were delivered remotely.
But according to NHS Digital, in 2019, just 13% of NHS GP appointments in England were held over the phone and less than 1% took place via video / online. One in twenty (5%) GP appointments were recorded as ‘did not attend’ in 2019.
By allowing patients to book, amend and cancel appointments easily, the CEBR report says that online GP services could help reduce this figure. It estimates that a 20% reduction could free the equivalent of 60 years of GP consultation time per year.
THE LARGER CONTEXT
AXA PPP Healthcare provides the online GP service, Doctor@Hand, which is supported by the doctor-founded digital healthcare company Doctor Care Anywhere. This allows patients to consult a GP via secure video and phone-consultations.
Another popular remote service is Babylon Health’s GP@Hand in the UK, which recently admitted to an error which allowed a patient to access videos of another patient’s consultation.
Meanwhile, a newcomer to the remote consultation space is UK supermarket chain Asda which has recently began offering in-store online GP consultations in partnership with digital healthcare firm Medicspot.
Furthermore, the state of telehealth in Europe before COVID-19 was analysed by HIMSS, parent company of Healthcare IT News, and the findings were presented in an eBook.
ON THE RECORD
Dr Arup Paul, deputy chief medical officer at AXA PPP healthcare, said: “The report illustrates that the adoption of such services not only benefits patients and the healthcare sector, but businesses too, with gains for both in terms of efficiencies and productivity.”
Dr Kate Bunyan, chief medical officer at Doctor Care Anywhere, which supports the delivery of AXA PPP healthcare’s Doctor@Hand service, said: “We aim to provide high quality care, through offering online GP services at a time and place that’s convenient to all. The more the healthcare sector can unlock such services, the more we can collectively support patient demand.”