The NHS’ use of outdated technology is continuing to hinder the widespread adoption of video consultations across primary care in the UK, according to findings from a new report published by LIVI, the UK division of Swedish digital healthcare provider KRY.
In a survey of 100 GPs, carried out at the beginning of September, nearly 80% of respondents said “poor IT and tech support”, such as hardware and wi-fi capabilities, were some of the key obstacles to the delivery of primary care through digital means.
The research sought to identify the perceptions and attitudes of GPs towards video consultations, as well as barriers to wider implementation, a year after LIVI launched in the UK. Since then, the company has seen its services become available to over two million patients in England after partnering with local GP federations in areas including Birmingham and Surrey.
Digital services, LIVI says, can provide an opportunity to offer GPs “more flexibility through remote working” and the resources needed to sustain “a long career”. “This involves maintaining a mix of both physical and digital practice, so that clinicians retain their core competencies while developing a digital skill set,” the report reads.
In addition, the survey found that 99% of the GPs interviewed felt stressed as a result of “rushed” consultations, while 95% reported a poor work-life balance.
Nearly two-thirds of GPs said video consultations could allow them to have more flexibility in their work.
THE LARGER TREND
Last year, a survey of members of the British Medical Association (BMA) found that over half of respondents believed that the current IT infrastructure of the NHS “significantly” increased their daily workload.
Over 35% reported that “inefficient” IT and data sharing systems were making them more stressed, and nearly 30% said they lost over four hours per week due to poor technology.
To address these issues, the Department of Health and Social Care announced earlier this year the launch of NHSX, a new unit for digital, data and technology, which is currently recruiting a chief technology officer.
ON THE RECORD
“The potential for digital healthcare is significant, allowing patients to access care whenever and wherever they need it. This will provide new, more flexible working options for doctors, and reduce pressure on the system by increasing GP capacity and decreasing waiting times,” said Dr Harriet Bradley, medical director of Livi.
“But for this to happen, there is much to be done to get our tech infrastructure ready. We welcome the Government’s commitment to wi-fi upgrades and support a UK-wide change management programme to unlock the full benefits of digital across the system,” she added.