The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has made telemedicine provider eConsult its official online consultation tool for primary care. Responding to the need for remote medical care catalysed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the platform has been made available for all medical centres at MOD sites across the globe.
The 124 international sites, reaching as far as The Falklands, Brunei and Belize, as well as in the UK, serve around 183,500 military personnel who will now have access to these "eConsultations."
WHY IT MATTERS
eConsult’s digital platform helps triage patient queries through a simple online form that, once completed, is sent to the patient’s NHS practice for review. The form gathers key patient information about symptoms they are experiencing and other identifying features, which enables clinicians to assess and prioritise those who are in most urgent need of care. Users can complete the form at any time, even outside of surgery hours, and it takes clinicians around three minutes to review and process. The platform itself can also provides advice on self-help or redirects users to local self-referral services and pharmacy advice.
The platform is already the most popular online consultation tool in the NHS, serving over 2,800 GP practices in the UK – approximately a third of practices nationally – which amounts to around 21.2 million patients. Throughout its usage during the pandemic, 95% of eConsultations have been resolved without the need of a follow-up face-to-face consultation, significantly reducing the risk of the spread of COVID-19 within GP surgeries.
eConsult and the MOD worked to mobilise the platform as quickly as possible, rolling it out to all MOD medical centres in the UK in 24 hours and across all others in five weeks. This process included implementation, training MOD clinicians on the platform and a communications effort to inform all personnel about the tool.
THE LARGER PICTURE
The success of online consultations is underlining the shift toward a digital-triage-first approach to primary care. As health providers start to look beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of telemedicine platforms as a digital front door is looking increasingly likely.
ON THE RECORD
Dr Murray Ellender, GP and chief executive of eConsult, commented: “We are thrilled to have partnered with the MOD, supporting their staff with remote medical consultations. With the contagious nature of COVID-19, it was key that we acted fast and gave all personnel quick access to their local medical centres, without having to come in to contact with another person.”
Commander Andrew Horlock, DHDO project manager, commented: “The Defence Healthcare Delivery Optimisation programme and eConsult Health has delivered eConsult at pace across 124 Defence Primary Healthcare facilities in five weeks both in the UK firm base and international arena, to as far afield as Brunei, Nepal and the Falklands. This has given the ability for approximately 183,500 services personnel and their dependants to remotely access Defence Primary Healthcare, through their mobile phone, computer or tablet. This has also enabled clinicians to continue to consult with patients whilst limiting patient attendance at Primary Healthcare Facilities during the COVID 19 crisis.”