One of the trends that we have seen over the past few years is more and more people migrating their healthcare online. There are a number of factors that have driven this trend. And we will look at these in this article. Patients are turning to online GP services because of a range of factors. And, as GP’s, you can make a huge difference in the lives of your patients by recognising this trend and acting upon it. Let’s take a look at why patients are turning to online GP services.
What Prompts That Change?
Society has changed hugely over the past few decades. We’re more time poor than ever before, or at least that is the perception people have. We rush from place to place, desperate to get as many things done as possible in the short time that we have available every day. Things like eating lunch at our desk is a sign that we’re trying to make the most of time. GP surgeries traditionally open Monday to Friday, during the normal working day for most people. The pressure on the earliest and latest appointments in a day are strong. If we don’t feel like we have enough hours in the day, then sitting in a GP’s waiting room for twenty minutes before getting their appointment seems like a massive strain on people’s time.
But it isn’t just time pressure that turns people to online GP services. We go to Google for most of our answers in life. Savvy websites will advertise their online, hassle-free appointments to those people searching for symptoms or advice. The convenience is a major factor, attracting people to make an appointment to see a GP in a few clicks rather than sit and wait on the phone for twenty minutes only to be told there are no appointments left.
The coronavirus pandemic has increased this aspect of life immeasurably, Plus, many people want to stay as far away from potential infection as possible. If the pandemic has caused anything, then it is that social distancing has stayed as a part of life for a percentage of the population.
In addition, people want more autonomy and choice in their healthcare. In short, they want to be informed and involved in their GP services more now than ever. The Department of Health has published an information strategy that is designed to put people in control of the information needed to manage their health. The more we empower people, the more they will take responsibility for their own health. The idea is that we all make it easier for all people to be healthier.
The Benefits For GP’s
Of course, with anything, we need to know what’s in it for us. There are a handful of really important benefits for GP’s, including –
- Reduced admin for GP staff means that they are freed up to support other aspects of care and provide a better patient experience.
- Increased operational efficiencies due to giving patients the ability to schedule and cancel appointments online. This opens up the possibility of someone else taking that appointment and protecting the time of everyone. This lowers the ‘Did Not Attend’ number for a practice.
- Lower travel costs are becoming more prohibitive with recent rises in fuel and public transport costs. If patients can carry out their healthcare tasks online, then this helps them reduce travel times and the associated costs.
- Greater health knowledge for patients allows them to be involved in decisions, making lifestyle changes and looking to a healthier future.
- Improved communication between patients and practices can be a benefit if the online system is set up to be this communication hub. Speak to us if you have any questions about how to make this happen.
How To Make This Happen
It is all very well and good knowing the benefits of allowing your patients to access online healthcare. And we have seen why patients are turning to online GP services. Time pressures, convenience and competition form online are all contributing factors here.
The NHS has issued guidance for GP practices to understand what is needed here. Some of their main points include making online services as open as possible, allowing your patients to do the following (and more) online –
- Look up contact details of the GP practice
- Book and manage an appointment
- Get a sick note for work
- See their test results
- Order a repeat prescription
As you can see, the list takes many of the admin tasks away from your practice team, freeing them up to get more involved in the care of patients. Having a fully functioning website that puts your patients in control is a must, rather than a ‘nice to have.’ If you want to transform your GP website, make things easier for your team and patients then get in touch with us today.