The rise of Virtual GP services in the workplace

The rise of Virtual GP services in the workplace

Bill Gates once said, “The advance of technology is based on making it fit in so that you don’t really even notice it, so it’s part of everyday life.”

For generations the UK has seen the National Health Service as a part of everyday life.  From a check up at a GP, to repairing an intrepid tree climbing 8-year old and dealing with later life issues such as Alzheimers, the NHS is an ever present.

However, the system is under colossal strain.  An ageing population, budget deficits and staff shortages are all causing stress to the ‘free at the point of delivery promise’.

The use of technology is starting to change the dynamic and has the potential to relieve some of the pressures on the system.

Primary Care (your GP surgery) is for most people a frustrating, time-consuming and often unsatisfactory experience.  Whether it’s the “you are number 10 in the queue” holding message or the 3 week wait to get your dodgy knee seen to, it can be frustrating.

The rise of the Virtual GP is challenging this model and providing another care option in the UK.  In essence it is an App or a website that uses algorithms (patterns and rules) and machine learning (understanding and extrapolating from those patterns and rules) to identify medical conditions and provide suggested next actions.

These next actions could be anything from “don’t worry” to “go at A&E immediately” and everything in between.

Virtual GP platforms are designed to bring great healthcare to everyone, with no barriers to time, budget or location.

In the corporate world Virtual GP services are making a big impact, why?  We see this as an extension of employers’ health and wellbeing agenda.  If improved use of technology leads to quicker diagnosis of issues and quicker treatment, then employees are back in work quicker and ultimately more productive. It’s not hard to see the link.

Private Medical Insurance providers like BUPA and AXA PPP are taking this model even further and using Virtual GP as an alternative to a traditional GP referral meaning that employees can skip the most awkward part of receiving private healthcare treatment altogether.

The referral aspect of Virtual GP for existing Private Medical Insurance (PMI) schemes is a great enhancement which will be rolled out by most providers by the end of 2019.  For companies looking to introduce PMI this is a further reason to go ahead and put the cover in place.

It’s not just PMI providers getting in on the act either.  Life Insurance provider AIG Life has just launched a new Virtual GP service for employees of clients with group protection schemes as a value-added benefit.

We simply see Virtual GP as a brilliant technological development that will take the pressure off Primary Care, democratise access to diagnosis and in the corporate world, help employers deliver world class health and wellbeing solutions to employees.

To find out how you could give your staff access to a Virtual GP service please speak to your usual Ink contact or call us on 01858 810200 or email us hello@theinkgroup.co.uk.

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