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  • Lee Dentith

The Growing Role of Telehealth in the NHS

As the pressures on the UK’s National Health Service continue to mount and appointment waiting times worsen, it’s no surprise that in recent years we’ve seen the likes of Jeremy Hunt et al begin to champion the ever-increasingly important role that digital health services have to play in the future of the NHS.

As the recent Health and Care Innovation Expo in Manchester showed, digital healthcare is a hot topic at the moment, and there were some great examples of new innovation on display. Events such as the Expo show the amazing progress being made in the digital health industry at the moment; it’s very encouraging to see key figures in the NHS finally begin to take note and understand just what telehealth and mHealth have to offer and the incredible benefits that technology could bring to the UK’s health service. However, just talking about innovation isn’t enough; we need to see real change being implemented directly into the NHS, as a matter of urgency.

As modern society becomes increasingly demanding and more and more “on-the-go”, the concept of waiting over a week (or in some cases two) to see your GP is simply not acceptable. Similarly, the process of receiving medicines – going to the doctors, getting a prescription and then going to a pharmacy to collect it – seems somewhat archaic.

Since Now Healthcare Group was founded back in 2014, we’ve harboured ambitions of bringing more convenient and accessible primary healthcare to as many people as possible. We’ve made incredible strides as a business through several high profile partnerships with private and corporate clients, with our user base expected to hit the 20 million mark by the end of 2017 thanks to new upcoming contracts. However, our long-term ambitions are obviously for our services to be utilised on a much larger scale, and the possibility of integrating our technology into the NHS is an incredibly exciting proposition for us.

Secure Smartphone Apps

For those of you not too familiar with terms such as “telehealth” and “mHealth”, our platforms are smartphone apps that utilise secure and scalable technology to connect patients with GPs, nurses and pharmacists via live remote video consultation or live chat triage service. We also offer patients a 24/7 telephone triage service, too, allowing people to access more convenient care and helping to alleviate the pressures on A&E units, local clinics and pharmacies.

Our well-known Dr Now and Now GP products continue to make great progress from a private healthcare point of view. However, our brand new platform – Now Patient – is set to revolutionise the way that over 15 million NHS patients with chronic care conditions access healthcare and medicines – all for free.

Now Patient is the first telehealth service to offer users a complete end-to-end primary care solution; users can book a remote video appointment with an MRCGP-certified, NHS-trained GP, manage their medicine usage with our medical adherence platform and get free nationwide delivery of their repeat prescriptions. We also offer an in-app chat facility and triage service to connect worried patients to GPs and nurses.

This new NHS “all-in-one” service is completely free to the patient, and we believe it will empower people to manage their own healthcare whilst significantly reducing the strain on our country’s increasingly overstretched CCGs, surgeries and GP practices.

Telehealth and the NHS

Jeremy Hunt has recently once again reiterated his desire to integrate telehealth services into the NHS “in the near future”, but the truth is that the solution that the NHS is looking for is here now.

We’re already integrating our Now Patient services into NHS CCGs, surgeries and practices to help make healthcare more convenient for millions of people across the country. Manor Park Medical Practice in Leicester, run by Dr D. Jawahar, is one of the first NHS practices to introduce the Now Patient offering into its system.

“As a GP and Federation Chair we fully support innovation,” said Dr Jawahar. “It’s great to see what can be achieved when the NHS and the independent sector combine forces to improve patients’ lives – we’re proud to be a part of it.”

In the coming months we hope to roll out our services to a huge audience, transforming the way that primary healthcare is accessed and managed across the country. Through Now Patient and its ground-breaking innovative technology, we’re truly offering people tomorrow’s healthcare, now.

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