A GP super-partnership has launched a pilot programme with private company Push Doctor to provide its patients with GP video consultations.
Modality Partnership will offer patients the option of a virtual consultation with Push Doctor GPs when they go to book their usual face-to-face appointments with their practice.
The pilot, which will run through the month of September, will first make the service available to six of Modality’s practices, covering a quarter of its 400,000 patients.
Local GP leaders welcomed the partnership with Push Doctor, saying it highlights the importance of providing a digital service to patients.
Under the pilot, if a patient choses to see a Push Doctor GP virtually, the receptionist will ask for personal details before sending them a text message with instructions on how to download the app and book an appointment.
Push Doctor, which promises video GP consultations ‘within minutes’ at a cost of £20 to private patients, will be free to access for patients registered at a Modality practice.
While patients will see a GP contracted to the private provider when they use the service, they will remain registered with their current practice and retain the ability to see their usual GP in person.
This comes after, rival digital GP provider Babylon began offering virtual NHS GP consultations in November last year but required patients to reregister with a host practice in London.
Pulse revealed earlier this year that Push Doctor was approaching Birmingham GP practices in a bid to enter the market and provide its services to NHS patients.
Meanwhile, Modality told Pulse in July that it was in talks with companies, including Push Doctor and Babylon, to provide online consultations for its patients.
Birmingham LMC chief executive Dr Robert Morley told Pulse that Modality recognises ‘the importance of providing a digital offer for their patients, as indeed must all practices’.
He said: ‘Whilst concern has been raised that Push Doctor may be seeking practice partners in order to exploit the out of area registration regulation in the same way as the GP at Hand Babylon model, Modality has made it clear that this is not the intention behind this development.’
Modality’s chief executive officer Vincent Sai said the partnership wants ‘to embrace technological advancements that will benefit our patients in terms of choice, access and convenience’.
Modality currently serves patients across Sandwell, Birmingham, Walsall, Hull, Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven, Wokingham, East Surrey and Lewisham.
Push Doctor’s chief medical officer Dr Dan Bunstone said: ‘For the first time patients of partner surgeries will be free to choose between a physical or an online appointment with an NHS GP.
‘We are committed to building strong partnerships with the NHS, working with, not against, existing providers in order to bring the benefits of omni-channel health to all.’
Meanwhile, Pulse previously reported that NHS England was looking into making GP video consulations available to all patients next year.