Three UK health tech firms have joined forces to create a digital triage toolbar for NHS GPs.
Patients can submit medical history questionnaires directly to their GPs via the platform, which can then be prioritised and progressed when necessary.
It also allows clinicians to respond to patients through a messaging service, which aims to reduce the need for patient follow-up with the practice.
The toolbar can be downloaded and installed free of charge by any GP practice that currently uses the eConsult digital triage system, constituting more than 40% of NHS practices.
WHY IT MATTERS
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen unprecedented adoption of new technologies to help manage the crisis through solutions to support and improve direct care.
The toolbar aims to enhance remote patient consultations and allow clinicians to care for patients who are self-isolating and prevent unnecessary trips to a practice, reducing the risk of infection.
THE LARGER CONTEXT
In a recent speech on the future of healthcare and lessons for the NHS from the coronavirus pandemic, health secretary, Matt Hancock, said all GP appointments should be carried out remotely by default unless a patient needs to be seen in person.
However, concerns were expressed by the Royal College of GPs, with some arguing remote consultations increased stress levels for patients and doctors and could take the human touch out of general practice.
ON THE RECORD
Dr Murray Ellender, CEO of eConsult, said: “We see this new service as a way to streamline processes for both patients and doctors. It will improve and quicken the response element from a GP, getting information to doctors and to patients, significantly faster. This is essential to provide the right care first time.”
Dr Chris Whittle, founder of Q doctor said: “By bringing together tried and tested technologies like eConsult, Q doctor and Cognitant, people can get the care and advice they need, more confidently and more safely than ever before.”
Dr Juhi Tandon, founder and clinical director of Cognitant said: “The ability for GPs to quickly triage patients, run consultations through a mix of virtual and face to face and then seamlessly follow-up with clear, reliable patient information delivered directly to their smartphone is going to be invaluable. It will massively improve the patient journey.”