The total cost in lost working time of UK employees travelling to appointments with their doctors last year was a staggering £1.5bn, new research reveals.
According to a report published by health insurance firm AXA PPP Healthcare, online General Practitioner (GP) appointments could play a significant role in boosting efficiencies across both business and healthcare.
The report, produced by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), suggests that if virtual appointments were used in the first instance, the number of face-to-face GP appointments conducted last year could have been reduced by 50m.
In addition, virtual appointments eliminate the need for patients to travel, thus reducing their chances of being exposed to the novel coronavirus. Furthermore, they allow GPs to reduce their risk of exposure too.
The CEBR report also highlights how online consultations, which can be more easily booked, amended, and cancelled, would help reduce the number of missed appointments. NHS Digital figures show that this is an issue, with one in 20 GP appointments recorded as ‘did not attend’ in 2019.
By enabling patients to more easily manage appointments, online GP services could free up the equivalent of 60 years of GP consultation time per year.
Whether the prevalence of virtual GP services continues to grow once the COVID-10 pandemic is over remains to be seen. What is certain is that they are playing a vital role as the crisis continues.