A survey conducted by telehealth company Now Healthcare Group has revealed that patients in the UK feel they should be able to choose to see a doctor via digital health platforms as part of NHS Choices.
After asking 100 members of the public, Now Healthcare Group found that 97% of respondents agreed that digital health technology should be made available through NHS Choices to make primary healthcare more accessible to patients. Mobile apps, video appointments and more could potentially reduce the unnecessary costs and pressures that are placed on the NHS.
The NHS Choices system currently allows patients to choose how they receive their secondary care when they are referred to hospitals or specialists.
However, primary care requires patients to be registered with a GP surgery if they wish to make an appointment.
With long waiting times for GP appointments, often taking up to two weeks, many people choose to go to directly to A&E, at the cost of £124 per visit to the visit.
This places extraneous costs and effort on the NHS. With an estimated 2 million A&E visits annually, 40%, or 9.1 million of these visits are deemed unnecessary. More so an extra £1 billion is placed onto the NHS each year due to the visits.
The integration of digital services into the NHS, is one way in which Now Healthcare Group believes that the figure could be reduced. More convenient access to healthcare, achieved through digital services, could significantly reduce unnecessary costs and efforts and help improve the standard of primary healthcare in the UK.
Now Healthcare Group’s integrated pharmacy solution, Now Pharmacy, has been working directly with the NHS to offer free delivery of NHS repeat prescription medication directly a patient’s door. This is already helping to reduce the number of A&E visits from patients requiring urgent repeat prescriptions, with tens of thousands of deliveries handled by Now Pharmacy since August 2015.
The company is the first digital health provider to be deemed ‘safe’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
Founder and CEO of Now Healthcare Group, Lee Dentith said: “With avoidable A&E visits costing the NHS over £1 billion each year, it’s imperative for the future of primary care in this country that new methods are introduced and new technologies are thoroughly embraced. These latest survey figures speak for themselves, and with 97% of patients actively asking for the opportunity to see a doctor via an app, I remain confident that services such as ours are undeniably the future of the UK’s healthcare system. As the only telehealth provider currently authorised to provide NHS repeat prescriptions, we have ambitions to work even more closely with the NHS to solve A&E’s billion pound problem by transforming the way that people in the UK access primary care.”