Recently the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) announced its vision for the future, aiming to end the standard 10-minute GP consultation, improve access to appointments for those that need them and expanding multidisciplinary teams to better manage patients in primary care. The RCGP anticipates that its future vision will be met by 2030, which will see GPs delivering round the clock care and working at scale in collaboration with neighboring practices to proactively improve the health outcomes of their patients.
myGP®, an NHS England assured app, is helping to make this future vision a current reality. Through in-app triage and signposting, offering earlier alternative nurse appointments, self-care advice, two-way chat between patients and practices or powering telephone/video consultation the app has helped GPpractices reduce the number of people booking a face to face GP appointment by nearly 26%. It also lets patients order their prescriptions online, eradicating the need for an appointment or phone call to their practice.
Data analysed in the RCGP’s ‘Fit for the future – a vision for general practice’ stated that many patients reported frustrations with inadequate practice booking systems as well as concerns over a lack of confidentiality when explaining private medical issues to reception staff in order to get an appointment. Other frustrations included short consultation lengths and long waiting times for appointments.
Unlike other GP apps on the market, myGP works with patients’ current GPpractice allowing them quicker and easier access to services at their own GPsurgery through a secure smartphone app. When booking an appointment, patients are asked questions and given relevant information using Artificial Intelligence which allows them to either be signposted to a preferential option of care for their complaint, such as a pharmacy or nurse, or upon booking an appointment allows the practice and the GP to understand why the appointment has been booked, freeing up receptionists’ time and alleviating patient concerns surrounding confidentiality.
It’s estimated that 27% of all GP appointments booked are avoidable or inappropriate, where the patient could have been seen by a member of the multidisciplinary team, visited a pharmacist or ordered repeat prescriptions without seeing their GP.
Mike Lewis, Chairman of iPLATO, the company who developed the myGP appcommented, ‘figures show that there were 307 million GP appointments that took place last year, we have had huge success working with CCGs and at a local practice level to deliver the online triage service which is yielding fantastic results, by freeing up appointments in patients own GP surgery for people that need them the most. Practice staff tell us that the phone lines go quieter and they have more time to spend with their patients’
He continued ‘the RCGPs vision mirrors ours, it allows patients better, faster access to healthcare and to widen access to other members of the primary care team, we wholeheartedly agree that there needs to be a cohesive push towards achieving this vision and we will continue to develop our technology in-line with patient and clinician needs.’
iPLATO originated as a two-way integrated SMS service for GP practices and its patients. It has developed its offering since its inception in 2011 – launching its patient facing app myGP in 2016 it now offers a holistic technological solution to GP practices and patients, integrating with existing NHS software its continual evolution to meet primary care needs has resulted in it serving 59 CCGs throughout the UK.