Greater adoption of digital health services by UK companies could help relieve pressures within the NHS, a UK employee benefits consultancy believes.
Punter Southall Health & Protection believes that due to advances in telemedicine and with affordable digital healthcare services now widely available, employers could offer their employees virtual GP services.
Over winter, NHS hospitals have been forced to cancel all routine operations to deal with overwhelming pressure of A&E due to increased incidences of flu and bed shortages. More so, according to the BMJ, GPs are having to turn away patients because of overwhelming demand on services and out-of-hours GP services are struggling to fill their staff rotas because of intense pressures this winter.
Jan Lawson, executive director of Punter Southall Health & Protection says: “The NHS can’t meet the demands being placed upon it this winter. One simple solution is for employers is to offer digital health services, so employees can consult with a GP from their desktops or smart phones as soon as they are ill. Their staff will be able to get medical advice quickly, avoid GP waiting times and taking time off for appointments, obtain prescriptions and get well sooner.”
Sick day cost UK businesses an average of £522 per employee, with illnesses such as coughs and colds being the main cause of short term absences.
The rise in digital services has been met by patient demand according to a survey from OmniJoin last year. The survey found that half of primary care patients would like the option of online video appointments with their GP. Almost one quarter (23%) said virtual consultations would be useful when they needed a quick appointment.