Ireland's second largest private health insurance company expects "several hundred thousand patients" to be using online GP video consultations within the next few years.
Laya healthcare today launched GPlive, Ireland’s first seven-days-a-week, out-of-hours video GP consultation service, as well as an online 24/7 private online service for repeat prescriptions.
Research on behalf of laya healthcare found that almost half (45%) of Irish employees on average miss more than four working days every year as a result of attending GP appointments.
The cost of this absence from work to Irish employers is €462m per annum.
On average it takes an employee 50 minutes to meet face-to-face with their GP, including travel time and time spent in the GP waiting room, with those needing GP services spending just over four days a year visiting their doctor.
One in two employees admit they feel guilty about taking time out of work to visit their GP, with the majority (86%) trying to schedule visits outside of work hours.
Employees with children fare even worse; almost half of those surveyed (48%) with children said they had to bring their child to the GP, missing an extra four days on average out of their work schedule.
The study was by carried out by Ignite Research among a nationally representative grouop of 1,182 in full-time employment.
Laya healthcare’s research identified that 40% of face-to-face GP visits could have been avoided by using convenient video GP consultations, with over a fifth of workers (22%) taking time out to visit their GP in order to refill a prescription and a similar number (18%) going to their doctor with cold or flu symptoms, both of which could have been handled through advanced online GP and smart prescription services.
The laya healthcare research reveals there is a demand for this new GP video consultation service, with 57% of people polled happy to use face-to-face online GP services because it means not having to leave your home, spend time traveling to a GP surgery or spend time in a waiting room.
Some 68% of those who would use the online GP service would do so because of its speed and convenience and 51% stated it would enable them to speak to a GP even when feeling too ill to travel to a GP surgery.
Some 57% of people polled happy to use face-to-face online GP services because it means not having to leave your home, spend time traveling to a GP surgery or spend time in a waiting room.
The research also found that 68% of those who would use the online GP service would do so because of its speed and convenience and 51% stated it would enable them to speak to a GP even when feeling too ill to travel to a GP surgery.
“We’ve seen a massive uplift in the popularity of online GP consultations and expect to be treating several hundred thousand patients using this software in the next five years," said Dr Sylvester Mooney, clinical director of GPlive and the CareOnCall Prescription Service.
"We see GPlive as a complementary service to the traditional GP consultation model.
"Through video consultations, our team of Irish registered doctors can safely treat many general health conditions that patients frequently visit their GPs with such as colds and flu, skin conditions and kidney infections, cystitis and urinary infections as well as stress and mental health queries, amongst others.
"It’s a brilliantly convenient service for working parents too, with extensive out of hour’s availability that can be booked in real-time via smartphone, tablet or PC.
"For many, the potential cost savings of this new service will be a huge appeal with cost of a GPlive video consultation from €22 and approximately €20 for repeat prescriptions.
“Through the use of the smartphone app and webcam, we can see our patients through GPlive, ask probing questions and use phone cameras and lights to get a closer look if needed.”