Why virtual GPs could be the support your people need

The link between physical and mental wellbeing has never been clearer. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has generated pressures on mental and physical healthcare systems and consequently workplaces around the world. As GP wait times are long, it can already be difficult to get to an appointment, coupled with long working hours, it is understandable that many employees can feel that they don’t have time to go to the doctors, or they have to take time off work to attend a GP appointment.

The ongoing impact of the public healthcare crisis

The complexity of the issue doesn’t stop there. Due to the ongoing and intense pressure on the public healthcare system, individuals who decide to seek help through their GP are not always getting the medical support they need, or as quickly as they need it. Just one in four GPs are working full-time1 and with 10 million more patients in England on the waiting list2 means these issues will not be resolved anytime soon.

When it comes to physical appointments, individuals have reported suffering from increased worry and anxiety if they cannot be seen by a medical professional, and three quarters of employees stated that their productivity is impacted while waiting for healthcare appointments.

Health and wellbeing solutions are no longer reserved for large organisations, nor are they the preserve of the C-suite or senior management. Technology has democratised access to modern healthcare – remote consultations and digital GPs can provide support for physical health issues virtually for entire workforces and help employers tackle big pain points like absenteeism and presenteeism.

With everything available on mobile devices today, whether it’s online shopping, working, or even unwinding after a long day, the healthcare industry has created support services that reflect today’s ‘always on’ culture and approach to using technology in our day-to-day lives.

A CiPD survey shows the average number of days lost to absence is 5.9 days per employee per year3. The survey found that most of these absence days were related to minor illness. How much of that average number is exacerbated by delays experienced accessing basic healthcare services from NHS GPs?

Employers are becoming increasingly aware of their role in looking after their employees by improving productivity, engagement and managing absenteeism. A virtual GP platform is a great way to offer speedy access to healthcare around your employee’s time.

A virtual GP gives employees control over their healthcare by being able to see a fully qualified GP at a time that suits them.

Consultations may be telephone based or by video conference with the option to choose their GP.  The latest developments are seeing AI being applied to assist doctors with diagnosing patients and seeking appropriate treatments.

In practical terms for an employer, the result is employees can access healthcare advice on day one of their symptoms, often without the need to take time off work given that a consultation can be held privately in a meeting room at a suitable time for the employee. Treatment or medication can be prescribed if appropriate and sent directly to the employee. Employees are back to their healthy best as quickly as possible, a good result for both the employee and the employer.

The NHS currently is going through a very challenging period. Accessing an NHS GP can be difficult for many patients due to perfect storm of increased demand and a national reduction in NHS GPs. The longstanding effects of the pandemic over the last 2 years has seen more of us access health care services than ever before. At Doctor Care Anywhere we strive to offer excellent healthcare for patients at a time that’s convenient for them. We want to work symbiotically alongside the NHS relieving some of that pressure, so that patients can continue to receive the healthcare when they need to. Dr Yvonne Umebuani, Head of General Practice (GP) Services



1 https://newsmonkey.uk/just-one-in-four-gps-are-working-full-time/

2 https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/nhs-waiting-lists-hiding-10m-patients-in-need-of-follow-up-care-d5shnhj3c

3 https://www.cipd.co.uk/Images/health-and-well-being-2020-report_tcm18-73967.pdf