The digital transformation

The way we use medical services is quickly changing. In the past decade, we’ve moved away from “regular check-ups” to far more automated processes that are reliant on technology. Now, three-quarters of Brits google symptoms as their first port of call.

With online medical solutions, like NHS patient access and online prescriptions continuing to thrive, the healthcare industry is now ushering in a new evolution of healthcare by providing GP online services.

But what does 'online GP service' really mean, is it necessary and how does it work?

What is an online GP service?

An online GP service allows you to interact with a certified doctor, via app or website, from anywhere with internet, or wifi access. It’s basically like having a GP in your pocket.

It has all the functionality of a physical GP as well. You can book an appointment and be seen within minutes, ask for advice, get referrals, as well as having prescriptions delivered to your home or local pharmacy, all at a time of your choosing. They aim to offer fast and accessible GP appointments and reduce the strain on the NHS. 

waiting room

How do online GPs work?

Well, it’s not a whole lot different to the way in which GPs operate currently. Online GP services allow you to book an appointment, via the website or app and choose a time that best suits you. As you don't have to be seen in person, online GPs can be much more flexible and there is often a larger, more practical window of time to book an appointment.

There is also enhanced flexibility when it comes to the appointment itself.  If it’s a sensitive issue, you can select the gender of your doctor and you can also decide whether you’d prefer a telephone or video call. When the appointment is booked in you’ll receive a reminder text message beforehand to ensure you’re ready for the call.

Once the consultation has taken place your doctor will decide the best course of treatment. If this involves a prescription it can be sent quickly via pdf. within the app which can then be easily downloaded and presented to a pharmacy. 

Of course, there will be certain ailments that need to be examined, so if further examination is needed, or the diagnosis needs to be escalated, you'll receive a referral to pass on to either a physical GP, or the respective medical practitioner.

doctor and patient laughing

What are the benefits of online GP services?

1. Gain access to 24/7 support

The biggest obstacle to seeing a GP is the limited hours you can book an appointment, with appointments often only available during the day. However with the virtual option, which Perkbox offer as a benefit option, your team will have access to a GP service that runs 24/7, so they can book appointments, speak to a doctor and get prescriptions delivered any time, anywhere. 

With 24/7 in-app support, your employees can manage their healthcare through an online platform removing the hefty admin that usually comes with seeing a GP.

2. Quick access to specialist treatment

Using an online GP service can reduce waiting times for essential NHS treatment options, such as counselling, physiotherapy and X-rays. The wait time for these appointments can add extra stress to your employees' lives, which can not only affect their personal lives but can also bring extra distraction and disengagement at work. 

By receiving quicker access to such options, your staff will relieve the strain on their daily lives, while also relieving the strain on the NHS.

3. Reduced absenteeism 

People miss work for a variety of reasons - many of which are for good reason, some less so. Injuries, illness and medical appointments are some of the most commonly reported reasons for missing work. Absenteeism due to illness can also spike at certain times of year, such as during cold and flu season, and this can hugely impact the productivity and performance of the workplace. 

By having an online service in place to give employees fast access to a GP during illness, they can quickly receive medical advice and prescriptions, and get back on the road to health in no time. This reduces absenteeism and can positively impact company finances, morale and other factors.

4. Prevent the spread of contagious illness

Online GP services have the dual effect of expediting the process of seeing a GP and preventing the spreading of contagious illness. In the time it takes to book a GP appointment many illnesses may already have worsened, while the app prevents the risk of spreading or catching something in a doctor’s surgery. So it’s a win-win.

5. Prescriptions to your door

It’s no secret that the NHS is struggling to keep up with the demand for doctor’s appointments. Patients are waiting an average of 13 days to get a GP appointment. Couple that with GP surgery opening hours confined to weekdays, and it can feel near impossible sometimes for patients to get the help they need.

This is often coupled with a long wait for prescriptions, that can be difficult to get hold of – however essential they are in helping employees live normal and healthy day-to-day lives. With an online GP service, your staff can get prescriptions delivered to their door, making their daily lives less stressful. 

As our society becomes increasingly tech-rich and time-poor, GP online services offer a new alternative to wasting hours in surgery waiting rooms.

6. Increased anonymity 

Some medical issues can feel more embarrassing than others. And although all doctors have seen it all, sometimes people don't feel completely comfortable to talk through certain problems they are having. By being able to communicate online or via phone call, it can take away any feeling of nervousness. This can help people to seek medical advice sooner.


And how will this benefit your workforce?

As GP wait times are long, it can already be difficult to get to an appointment. When is coupled with long working hours, it is understandable that many employees can feel that they don't have time to go to the doctors. This can also mean that employees have to take time off work just to be able to attend a GP appointment. 

According to a 2016 CIPD report, only 7% of organisations surveyed provided employees with access to private GP services - but the benefits of offering such service can be very beneficial for absence management. 

The benefits for employees: 

Employees can quick receive advice and prescriptions without having to take very much time out of their day. According to our 2020 workplace stress survey, 45% of employees suffer from health-related stress. Some of these concerns may be able to be managed if more employer's provided such services to their staff - allowing them to better manage their own health. 

Online GPs also provide a confidential service that can be used at any time. This means that employees don't have to let their employers or managers know that they are using the service at all. 

The benefits for employers:

Firstly, a healthy workforce is a happy workforce. When your workforce are healthy, they will be engaged and productive, but also importantly, by offering this kind of benefit to your workforce, they will feel appreciated and valued which can help to reduce staff turnover. 

Secondly, as mentioned earlier - by giving employees quick and easy access to healthcare and prescriptions, the number of sick days taken should also reduce. 

How online GPs can relieve pressure on the NHS

In 2017, hospitals in the UK had to deploy 4,000 extra beds to manage the extra demand.  This isn’t a one-off either. There simply isn’t enough funding to meet the needs of our growing population and consequently the NHS is at breaking point.

However individuals aren’t always able to carry on with their normal life in the 3 week interim and can cause businesses a lot of trouble when sick days start to increase.

This isn’t the fault of the NHS. Current financial issues coupled with the  overuse of GP services for minor issues has meant it’s becoming more and more difficult to tackle absenteeism.

With absenteeism costing the UK businesses an average of £522 per employee per year, employers are starting to take employee wellbeing into their own hands and using technology to appeal to their workforce. In a society that’s time poor and technologically able, innovation is taking the form of online services.

That being said, people’s health is a very delicate balance. There’s no denying that if someone needs medical attention, as a business it’s your duty to support that. Patient access should always be a priority and therefore any solution needs to offer the might of the NHS with the ease of private healthcare.

With online services, patients receive the reassurance of the face-to-face interaction, without the wait times. Services that offer a face-to-face consultation via an online platform can reduce anxiety about conditions and offer instant solutions.

GP online services are a great way to offer medical knowledge at the click of a button and offer a much needed solution to the stress that’s currently on the NHS.  Not only does it alleviate pressure on NHS services, it allows patient services to become more accessible and easier to use. For this reason, GP services are the future of healthcare. The result is a happier, healthier individual.

Is this the future of healthcare?

With over subscribed services and increased pressure on the NHS, the benefits of GP online services are obvious. Perkbox offer a package of benefits designed to enhance employee wellbeing and drive high performance, to help your business reach its goals.

If you’re looking for more information and learn more about how you can reduce absenteeism and promote employee wellbeing in the workplace, get in touch.

In summary

Online GP services allow you to interact with a certified doctor via an app or website, from anywhere. 

The benefits of an online GP include: 

      • You can book an appointment at a time that suits you, as you don't have to be able to attend a physical doctors surgery. 
      • There is enhanced flexibility in appointments - select the gender of doctor and decide between telephone and video call.
      • We now have e-prescriptions where the GP can send the prescriptions to the following pharmacy:any pharmacy chains accept our ePrescriptions, including: Superdrug, Tesco, Day Lewis, Rolands, selected Boots stores.
      • If further examination is needed, you'll receive a referral to pass on to either a physical GP or the respective medical practitioner.
      • Reduces presenteeism and absenteeism while supporting the NHS


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