The National Health Service has officially launched a smartphone service that allows you to see a GP 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Called GP at Hand, the service allows patients to make a video call with an NHS GP on their smartphone, saving the need to go to an actual doctor’s surgery.
What’s more, the service looks to slash waiting times, with many getting an appointment often minutes after booking, a stark difference to the weeks that some GP appointments can take to book in.
After your consultation, your doctor can send any prescriptions to a pharmacy of your choosing, where you can then pick up your medicines at a time to suit you.
The service has recently been trialled in the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, and following that successful trial, is being rolled out to the rest of London. According to the press release, a rollout for the rest of the country is coming in the near future.
Swift and efficient
We tried out GP at Hand during the trial period and were very impressed with the service. We were able to book an appointment for 40 minutes time, the service was easy to use, and the doctor we saw was knowledgeable, with a kind manner.
Of course, not all ailments are able to be diagnosed over a video call, and in these circumstances, you would be sent to an affiliate physical practice where a doctor will be able to physically examine you.
The service is provided by Babylon, a digital healthcare company, and is essentially exactly the same health care service that Babylon offers, simply free-at-the-point-of-use rather than paid-for.
Obviously, it will be the NHS footing the bill, with patients registering GP at Hand as their GP practice. For some, there may be a concern about a private company taking on the services of the NHS, and we asked Babylon CEO Ali Parsa about this when we interviewed him a few months before time of writing.
His response was that “every GP is a paid service. It’s a business. So that’s fine, but they’re being paid by the National Health Service... Why couldn’t the NHS pay Babylon to be your GP?” And it looks like Dr Parsa has got his way.
According to the official press release, the trial was met with overwhelming positivity, with over 90% of users involved giving it five stars. It is an interesting proposition taking healthcare digital, seeing as so much of the rest of our everyday lives is now being run from our smartphones.
As the rollout continues, we’ll make sure to bring you all the latest on where it is coming to and how successful it is.
- Want to read our full interview with Babylon CEO Ali Parsa? Check out: Creating the Google of medicine: meeting the human CEO behind the AI doctor