The future of online vs physical GP consultations

13th October 2020 0

In light of recent changes and social distancing guidelines, general practice surgeries across the nation have increased online consultations for the safety of both staff and patients. Over the last few months, in particular, GP’s ask patients to communicate via any phone, tablet or desktop device with limited face-to-face appointments. 

GPFV (General Practice Forward View) has been a part of NHS England’s plan to meet demand by taking consultations online. It focuses on investing in technology to reduce workload and speed up the transformation of GP services. Due to Covid-19, online consultations have increased recently but are online GPs really the future and how do they work anyway? 

How Do Virtual GP Consultations Work?

Online GP consultations allow patients to contact their online GP consultant about any new or on-going health problems virtually. The current social distancing limits in-person interaction, and they intend to communicate with patients mainly via text-based services as well as via telephone and video consultations. 

NHS Digital recently announced that between March and July, half of the 102 million GP appointments were carried out either over the phone or via video call. However, despite the success of online consultations, the NHS is still urging GPs to offer face-to-face appointments. With winter approaching the NHS wants patients to know they can access their GP if needed. They also reminded GPs that not offering face-to-face appointments is a breach of their contract which could lead to enforcement action if necessary. 

Why We Still Need Face-to-Face Consultations

Prof Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of GPs, spoke on the matter saying: “The college does not want to see general practice become a totally, or even mostly, remote service post-pandemic.” With confusion amongst GPs and patients around the best way to carry out their appointments, we must question what the future will hold. 

As a healthcare specialist property service, we understand the need for GP surgeries to adapt and follow government guidelines related to the pandemic. However, it is clear GP surgeries will need to continue to be flexible throughout the winter offering a combination of in-person, over the phone and video appointments.

Patients will therefore expect GP transformations both online and offline and primary care buildings will still require further improvement to the health and wellbeing of its workers and users. Surgeries will therefore require more flexibility, becoming a space which is suitable for face-to-face appointments as well as online appointments. 

The Challenges of Becoming an Online-friendly GP

GPs and Practice Managers will be challenged with creating a space that is hospitable both online and offline which will be vital for patient’s wellbeing. To start, surgeries should consider transforming the traditional consulting rooms into space which is also online friendly. The use of screens and acoustics should be considered in all new GP developments going forward. To help with this transformation, surgeries should seek specialist healthcare property services to help seek and realise new opportunities beyond just property. 

At Apollo, we approach every project as a partnership. This allows us to build relationships and communities that bring together staff and patients to help create GP surgeries in the future. We can help improve your healthcare premises for both in-person and online use using our bespoke primary care property solutions. To find how we can help you further, get in touch today: