GP consultations via Skype on the horizon

The days of Skyping or Facebooking the family doctor are almost upon us with a new telemedicine service where patients can avail of consultations via smart phone, computer, or tablet.
GP consultations via Skype on the horizon

The National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) said the new service means patients and doctors will be able to deal “with a wide range of medical issues, which make up the majority of health complaints seen in general practice, but without... having to make the trip to the practice”.

Project director, Dr Michael McConville, said it will be convenient for patients short on time as well as “particularly useful for those that are immobile and unwell, as it will mean that they will not have to leave their own home”.

According to the NAGP, “GP-Online” is at an advanced stage of development and will be formally unveiled at the Primary Care Partnership Conference and NAGP agm at the end of this month. The service is expected to be rolled out in the second quarter of the year.

The NAGP said in comparison with other telemedicine services, its offering is unique “as patients will be able to deal with their own GP — ensuring continuity of care”. Patients will be able to schedule an appointment with their GP through the app’s booking system.

If a physical examination or blood and other tests are subsequently needed, patients will be able to upgrade to a GP practice visit.

GP-Online will initially only be available for private appointments, but the association is hopeful it will be used for medical card appointments in the future.

The cost to patients will be set by each GP, but the NAGP said it is expected to be “considerably lower” than the current cost of an appointment.

The NAGP will have an approximate 50% stake in the new service with the balance being owned by participant GPs. It is anticipated that over 100 GPs will invest in the venture.

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