Much has been said about artificial intelligence being the panacea for all ills. Diagnostic algorithms, symptom checkers, and even ties between the NHS and Amazon’s Alexa device. But there is another way – why not take amazing doctors and augment their capabilities rather than replacing them with a robot? Six more practices have recently integrated the Docly way of working, allowing more than 40,000 patients access to the Docly service. The 2000th consultation has recently been conducted by the Docly service in the UK.
The training of doctors has evolved over 100s of years, leading to nuanced history-taking resulting in high accuracies of diagnosis. The quality of UK GPs is without question. But GPs are under significant time pressure, having only ten minutes per patient (including the time needed to write up notes) and GPs seeing 41 patients a day on average. There is a wealth of well-known evidence that questions the application of artificial intelligence. A recent article in Pulse added to the flurry of testing of such apps which often demonstrate their diagnostic skills are lacking and no match for a GP. What GPs need is not artificial intelligence, but augmentation; of intelligence, numbers, flexibility in their career and time. This is what Docly does.
Docly is a messaging based, CQC approved service. Docly clinicians are powered by technology to reduce the amount of time required to consult. Its pre-consultation guides ensure the GP has all of the information they need before the messaging-based consultation even begins. These guides augment the GP’s access to information and ability to make a diagnosis. Patients can access their doctor while at work, picking their kids up from school, or just fulfilling everyday life. Pulse recently cited that the average wait time for an appointment is 15 days, whereas patients using Docly are usually reviewed, assessed and provided with treatment within the same day.
Artificial intelligence has “threatened” to replace the jobs of the population for a number of years. At Docly we propose that technology in primary care should augment and enhance the careers of GPs rather than challenge it. Nor should new technologies and ways to engage with health services create additional anxiety amongst the worried-well and increase the clinical workload.
More and more GPs are retiring, and with rising expectations from the patients they serve it’s unsurprising that GPs still practicing are feeling the heat. GPs have often given up partnerships to take salaried or sessional roles and locum GPs have been frequently used by GP practices to boost capacity when required. But locum GPs come at a price, often up to £900 per day. Docly believes that no GP should feel they need to leave the health service due to stress, burnout, or family commitments. Many joined the profession due to its flexibility, ability to be their own boss, and the ability to have continuity of care with patients. Docly actively promotes a work life balance with its GPs, allowing GPs the ability to develop a portfolio career.
Docly also augments the quality of consultations. All Docly consultations occur with the clinician having full access to the patient’s electronic health record, accessed through the practice system. This ensures continuity of care and assurance that pre-existing conditions or allergies can be considered. All Docly consultations are recorded in the patient’s electronic health record for completeness of care record management. There is decision support for all conditions treated by Docly and guideline changes can be quickly embedded into the system, providing a prompt to all GPs to ensure best practice is followed. In addition, 1 in 10 cases are peer reviewed, ensuring Docly GPs feel fully supported in their decision making and professional development.
Dr Rishabh Prasad, Chairman of the Willows Primary Care Group, commented, “I feel reassured having Docly as part of the service at my practice. Patients can receive timely care from a CQC registered provider, with all clinical decisions made by a GP, without needing to take unnecessary time off work. It supports both patients and primary care as a whole”.
Caroline Pilot, Chief Medical Officer commented, “We’re really excited to be welcoming six more practices to the Docly family, with more practices to follow. It’s a great honour and privilege to be working in general practice at this time, particularly to be enabling GPs to work more flexibly, and to give them the skills to become experts in online care”.