The coronavirus pandemic has forced people to embrace virtual meetings through Zoom and similar platforms.
But whilst virtual GPs have been around for over a decade, research shows that due to the pandemic, more than half of the UK are happy to have any appointment with a virtual GP.
Available on your smartphone, tablet or desktop, patients can set up an appointment with a virtual GP, typically through their practice, clinic, via their insurer or by reaching out to various virtual GP brands.
A survey conducted by health insurance company Equipsme, showed that out of 1,049 people, that 37% would like the option of a remote consultation, whilst 24% would always prefer remote appointments due to convenience or to restrict journeys or coming into contact with the general public.
In fact, research showed that 61% would either prefer to keep seeing their doctor remotely, or would like to have the choice of remote appointments, over seeing their doctor in person, even when the full lockdown restrictions lift.
The data showed that younger people were more open to remote consultations, with only 35% saying they would still prefer to go to their GP surgery in person – rising to 45% of those aged 55 and older.
The main finding was that lockdown led to a positive first experience of a remote consultation for many.
Managing Director at Equipsme, Matthew Reed, explained: “Digital healthcare, including phone and video consultations, has been growing steadily but slowly over the last 20 years. Under the circumstances of the last few months, it’s exploded. What we’ve seen is a revolution in how medical care is delivered, and it’s clearly been a revelation to large number of Brits.
“People have realised they can get practical help and advice for basic health conditions quickly and easily from the comfort of their own home – fitting it in around their working and family lives. While there will always be some people and some ailments that require face-to-face care, remote consultations have proven to be effective, efficient, and perhaps surprisingly popular.”
Equipsme is a new insuretech startup, offering health insurance plans for organisations, with a minimum of 2 employees. With packages starting from just £7.99 per month, customers get access to a virtual GP as standard, which is delivered by health provider Medical Solutions, which is run by Dr Chris Morris. The company states that ‘it is not just patients that can benefit from the trend in digital health, but doctors and the NHS as a whole.”
The popularity in virtual GPs from the likes of Push Doctor and Doctor 4 U is unsurprising. When people are felling under the weather, the concept of getting out of bed, being in contact with other people and waiting in a long waiting room is certainly not appealing. However, the ability to see someone virtually, and often much faster, especially during coronavirus times, is a healthy proposition.