The advent of COVID-19 accelerated the need for both NHS and private healthcare providers to quickly re-assess how they deliver vital healthcare services to their patients.
The pandemic resulted in acute capacity challenges and the need for healthcare providers to reduce face-to-face consultations. At the height of the pandemic the UK Government declared that all NHS England GP Practitioners should see patients remotely by default. This caused a giant leap in virtual GP appointments from 25% to 71%*.
Additionally, due to the pressure that NHS was under during COVID-19, it caused a significant spike in the uptake of private telehealth consultations and virtual appointments through online services such as Babylon and HealthHero.
This shift to “digital first” occurred across the healthcare sector. For example, registrations of the NHS app increased by 111% between February and March 2020, and the use of NHS 111’s service was up 257% in the latter half of 2020*.
So, what does this indicate when it comes to the future of digital healthcare? A few things.
Patients are becoming more comfortable with using digital healthcare services. Digital consultations and using technology to better manage their healthcare needs are becoming the norm. According to Statista*, a survey carried out in the UK found that 78% of respondents agree that telehealth is more time-effective than in-person consultations. Furthermore, 61% agree that telehealth provides more access to quality healthcare.
Telehealth solutions also remove the geographical barrier to accessing clinical specialists in their respective fields of expertise, making it more accessible for patients overall. This includes patients in rural or remote areas or patients that suffer with mobility options. Not to mention, it allows for increased convenience with direct access to care from the comfort of a patient’s own home.
Telehealth services can also help patients who suffer with chronic healthcare conditions such as lung disease, heart disease, diabetes and cancer to better access longer-term care options. In some cases, it may also increase treatment and medication adherence by removing the need for lengthy waiting times and giving patients more independence to attend appointments from the comfort of their own home
Healthcare providers who offer telehealth services may incur fewer overhead costs, for example they may pay less for administrative support or be able to invest in office space with fewer exam or consultation rooms. Clinicians may also find that it increases their revenue by allowing them to provide healthcare services to more patients over a wider geographical spread.
It is also beneficial for providing your patients with a superior patient experience. When a patient does not have to travel to their consultation, arrange childcare or take time off work then there is a higher likelihood of patient satisfaction and retaining that patient on a longer-term basis.
Furthermore, if you can provide your patients with an end-to-end digital patient experience from initial consultation to medication delivery all from the comfort of their own home, it means the patient has full control over their healthcare needs. This is what we are helping our healthcare partners to achieve at Phlo Connect.
Telehealth is not possible without the technical infrastructure to support it, and as a result, investments need to be made in technology. Often clinicians and healthcare providers are working within multiple disparate clinical systems which can make it difficult to provide a seamless and integrated service for their patients.
This means that providers need to provide a way to streamline this by offering a comprehensive service through integrated communications such as video, webchat, patient real-time updates, reminders and follow up appointments.
At Phlo Connect, we have built the UK’s first API-driven pharmacy infrastructure platform that allows healthcare providers to provide a 21st century pharmacy experience to their patients at the touch of a button. We’ve deliberately built our platform to offer our partners a “plug in and play” solution, removing friction points and significantly improving the end patient experience when it comes to accessing their medication.
We are helping world-leading telehealth companies such as Babylon Health and HealthHero to offer their patients a 21st century digital pharmacy service that offers them speed, flexibility and convenience.
If you would like to find out more about how Phlo Connect can help you, get in touch with the team and we would be delighted to help you.