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Patients across whole county set to consult with GPs electronically

CCGs across Devon are aiming for all patients in the county to have access to GP e-consultations by the end of the year.

Following a deal between NHS England, NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon CCG and NHS South Devon and Torbay CCG with online consultation provider eConsult, some 550,000 patients now have access to the new technology.

Patients can fill out a form on their practice's website stating their symptoms, which will be reviewed by a GP and they will receive a response within one working day.

Self-help tools available in the service also includes symptom-checkers, instructive video content created by GPs, and advice about the various places a patient can get help, including pharmacies, the NHS 111 helpline or an available app.

Dr John McCormick, chief clinical information officer for Devon’s CCGs, said: 'eConsult is a new way of being able to contact your GP and get medical advice from your practice.  You go onto your practice website and it’s right there in the centre of the website.'

He added: 'We have piloted this system in several practices and it has proved hugely beneficial for patients and practices. This is because patients are getting quicker access to health advice, which in turn means that those who need to see a GP can get an appointment more quickly.

'When a patient completes an online form about their condition, a GP will get in touch with the patient to give advice, offer an appointment if needed, or issue a prescription.'

Readers' comments (2)

  • It would be useful to publicize the impact assessment describing how you ensure that disadvantaged groups are not further discriminated against by this new service.

    There are many who feel that this analysis demonstrates that introducing this service is unethical. If your analysis has a different answer please share it so that we can all learn.

    The results of your pilot study should really be published to ensure that there is no unconscious bias in your interpretation of the results. For example How did the patients unable to use econsult fare? Did they feel that access was improved by this service? Was it easier for a homeless person to use than traditional General Practice?

    What were the satisfaction scores of patients who never contacted the practice? What was the awareness of patients regularly using services like?

    If you could let us see the analysis it would allay the fears of many specialist primary care consultants with many years experience who are a little skeptical at times about this particular 'new' technology.

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  • Yet another layer of delaying and diverting care of your patients, keeping them at arms length with electronic non-human touch.
    Where is the guaranteed electronic data security?
    Can a patient even be sure who is responding to their health concern in these days of 'fake treatment'?
    This still does not help people who do not use or have not got a functioning computer like many elderly, frail or living alone.
    The list of questions is huge.
    AI, algorithm-led protocols, will be the next great development in health, doctors not needed at all. The money saved by not employing doctors can be used to develop AI Health still more!
    Is this what doctors have trained for, keeping our patients at arms length, and that arm is growing increasingly long and non-human: and non-humane?
    Buck the trend, actually see our patients!

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