A new service promises to ‘deliver’ GPs to a patient’s workplace or home, in the latest of a line of private service to spring up in recent months.
AKEA Life has marketed itself as a ‘Deliveroo for doctors’, based on the food delivery service, saying it will conduct consultations wherever the patient is located, charging £120 a month for pensioners.
Other companies marketing themselves over the past few weeks include a new service for frequent travellers launched by the Flight Centre travel retailer, and a new on-demand GP online service.
The BMA has expressed concern about new private services, warning that treating patients without full access to medical records makes treatment more ‘risky’.
It comes after a Pulse investigation last year warned that several new services, mainly using smartphone apps, were offering convenient GP appointments at a cost.
The latest private services include:
- AKEA’s ‘Deliveroo-style service, which aims for patients to see the same GP every time and offers patients the chance to view all their confidential medical information such as consultations, test results and referral information;
- The Flight Centre’s new service – for which they’ve partnered with Doctor Care Anywhere – offers video or telephone consultations with GPs who can then issue prescriptions to be collected at a pharmacy local in their respective destination. This business class perk is included in the cost of an international flight if booked via Flight Centre.
- The ‘Video Doc/Doctor on Demand’ service, aimed at companies, which aims to cut down on employee absenteeism by offering video consultations from 8am to 10pm Monday to Sunday.
However, there are concerns about the level of patient care being offered by on demand GP services and whether treatment for patients is being compromised in not attending a GP practice.
Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee deputy chair, said: ‘The BMA has expressed concern about the development of services like this as patients are treated without full access to their GP practice clinical record which makes prescribing and treatment more risky. What’s really needed is significant investment in NHS GP services to ensure practices can develop their services further to meet patient needs.’
Pulse reported last year that private companies were taking advantage of the pressure on NHS GP services, with the average waiting time for an appointment increasing to almost two weeks.
What the private companies say
Dr Jamie Paweleck, medical director at AKEA Life
’Nowadays, not only can it be difficult to fit getting medical advice around existing commitments – but it is no longer the norm to see the same GP. We want to change this, and bring back that relationship, while offering the convenience and immediate access that people now expect in most areas of their lives in 2017.
’Our mission at AKEA Life is to deliver a traditional family doctor to those who require healthcare to work around them. In the 21st century doctors need to be available for people 7 days a week and in the evenings. We can deliver that by provide a private practice environment that goes the extra mile for its patients.’
Mary O’Brien, co-founder of VideoDoc
’We know that at least 70% of all health-related issues which a GP might treat during an in-surgery visit can be treated via telemedicine consultations. So why, when the NHS is already over-burdened and access to GPs and primary care services are at an all-time low, is there such an inflexible approach to how and where we “see” our doctors – as well as a continuing culture of clogging up waiting rooms
’Millennials are the mobile, subscription and on-demand generation – taxis, TV and now healthcare! They’re simply not used to having to wait for services and not prepared to disrupt their working day for an appointment that could legitimately be accessed from their workstation. VideoDoc is healthcare, anytime, anywhere.’
Doctor Care Anywhere spokesperson
’Through the Doctor Care Anywhere service, customers will receive a free consultation via smartphone, computer, tablet or landline. Following the consultation, the doctor will type out the jargon-free notes and add them to that individuals’ patient record. If the patient requires a prescription, they can choose to have it delivered in as little as 4 hours within central London or pick them up at a nearby pharmacy, anywhere in the world.
‘To note, nearly 50% of Doctor Care Anywhere appointments end up providing medical advice without prescriptions. As well, any private referrals or fit notes will be uploaded to the patients’ record following the consultation for them to download and share with other healthcare professionals.’