The First Digital Health App to be Declared Safe by the CQC

We’ve been selected to establish best practice for digital healthcare and health apps in the UK under Jeremy Hunt’s new plans to bring health tech into the NHS.


Now Healthcare Group is delighted to announce that it is the first and only digital healthcare provider to meet all regulations set by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) following a recent investigation.

This makes the Now Healthcare Group (NHG) the first mobile health app service to be declared “safe” by the CQC. Several other health apps have entered the marketplace recently, all of which have either not yet been inspected, are not registered or have not yet applied to register with the CQC.

As the first mobile health company to be visited by the regulatory body, Now Healthcare Group was exclusively selected for an Independent Health Pilot in order to assist the CQC in implementing best practice for health tech in the UK and laying the foundations for all future digital healthcare quality control.

NHG has received a Quality Report from the CQC, which recognises the tech company’s innovation, doctors, commitment to patient safety and service provision. The results of this investigation see NHG now setting the high standards which the rest of the digital health industry must adhere to going forwards.

now gp app

 

Now Healthcare Group is the company behind the revolutionary Now GP and Dr Now mobile health apps, which are the world’s first health apps to both diagnose and deliver medicines, connecting patients to NHS GPs via smartphone video call. The services currently serve over one million users, with insurers such as Thomas Cook and Cigna using the platform to provide their customers with convenient, flexible healthcare.

At a time when online pharmacies are under increasing scrutiny due to recent undercover investigations which revealed instances of over-diagnosis, the CQC has found that NHG is treating patients in line with best practice guidelines, maintaining appropriate medical records and constantly monitoring prescriptions and consultations. All GPs working for NHG are NHS GPs in their own right, and hold a minimum qualification of MRCGP.

This CQC approval demonstrates why NHG has recently been selected to work directly with the NHS as part of the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator programme, which will see the health tech company assist the health service through technology and continued innovation.

This exciting development follows Jeremy Hunt’s recent announcement at the Health and Care Innovation Expo in Manchester, in which he stated that the NHS is to look towards mobile health technologies and apps in a bid to reduce the pressures on the current health system. Now GP/Dr Now is currently looking to provide white-labelled health apps to CCGs, surgeries and 111/out of hours services to help the NHS meet its seven day access targets.

example of a white-labelled now gp to be used by the nhs
The Now GP app can be white-labelled by CCGs and NHS surgeries to provide patients with a convenient primary care solution. PLEASE NOTE: These screenshots are for example purposes only.

Founder and CEO of Now Healthcare Group, Lee Dentith, made the following comment:

“Becoming the first mobile health service to meet CQC regulations demonstrates the positive steps Now Healthcare Group is making as a healthcare provider, and it’s an honour to be selected to set the high standards which the rest of the industry must now follow.

“This CQC Quality Report, coupled with our involvement with the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator, reaffirms my belief that our service will be fully implemented cross the whole of the NHS in the coming years. We are aiming to be able to provide 100 million consultations in the next 3-5 years and also want to capitalise on technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence to help patients take better control of their healthcare and reduce pressures on the NHS.”


Example quotes from the CQC Quality Report:

“GPs told us that they received excellent support if there were any technical issues or clinical queries.”

“Patients were treated in line with best practice guidance and appropriate medical records were maintained.”

“There were clinical governance systems and processes in place to ensure the quality of service provision.”

“Prescribing was constantly monitored and all consultations were monitored for any risks.”

“We reviewed a sample of anonymised consultation records that demonstrated appropriate record keeping and patient treatment.”

“[The service] identified the need for patients who may be unable to get an appointment with their NHS GP or who prefer a more flexible service.”

“We reviewed three recruitment files which showed the necessary documentation was available.”

“We reviewed six anonymised medical records which demonstrated notes had been adequately completed. GPs had access to all previous notes within the Now GP / Dr Now system.”

“The doctors providing the service were aware of both the strengths (speed, convenience, choice of time), and the limitations (inability to perform physical examination) of working remotely from patients. They worked carefully to maximise the benefits and minimise the risk for patients.”

“The provider told us that they had a clear vision to work together to provide a high quality responsive service that put caring and patient safety at its heart.”

“There was a range of service specific policies and process flow charts which were available to all staff.”

“There were a variety of daily, weekly and monthly checks in place to monitor the performance of the service.”

“A comprehensive understanding of the performance of the service was maintained.”

“Care and treatment records were complete, legible and accurate, and securely kept.”

“The service consistently sought ways to improve. All staff were involved in discussions about how to run and develop the service, and were encouraged to identify opportunities to improve the service delivered.”

“As the management team and IT teams worked together at the HQ there was ongoing discussions at all times about service provision.”


For the latest news and updates on digital healthcare, follow @NowGP on Twitter.


NHS Expo 2016: Hunt Announces mHealth Integration

The Now GP/Dr Now team are at today’s annual NHS Health and Care Innovation Expo in Manchester, where Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is set to announce the arrival of mHealth and app-based online health services into the NHS.

This marks a significant breakthrough for mHealth companies such as ourselves, who have long since championed the benefits that embracing technology can bring to the health service and to its patients.

Hunt will announce later today “a multi-million pound package” to expand digital services across the NHS, which will including a new online triage service to enhance the current 111 service and out of hours care.

Hunt said:

“We live in the age of the smartphone, and we want the NHS to reflect that. Our new plans will make it easier for patients to get the medical support and information they need, and should encourage more of us to use the growing range of online NHS services.”

Services such as our Now GP/Dr Now mHealth can be white-labelled and custom-built for NHS CCGs and surgeries, helping them to combat the problem of waiting times and reduce the strain on the healthcare system and out of hours services. By embracing mHealth apps, the NHS will also be more able to deliver its goal of seven day access by pooling qualified GPs, nurses and specialists into a convenient and accessible healthcare app.

Our app connects patients with independent NHS doctors who deliver advice and diagnosis via remote video consultations. We also have an NHS-registered pharmacy which is able to deliver medicines directly to a patient’s home and serve repeat NHS prescriptions.

As the mHealth industry continues to expand, we’re turning our attention to the power of artificial intelligence, wearable technology and “big data” analytics to direct patients to the care and treatment they need. Early intervention is a key aspect of delivering effective primary care, and we want to allow patients to get the care they need at the earliest opportunity – in some cases, before they even realise they are ill themselves.

We’re delighted with the direction that the NHS is heading and its desire to utilise such innovative technology is very pleasing to see. Look out for more exciting news from Now GP/Dr Now in the near future.

If you would like a white-labelled mobile health app for your surgery or CCG, contact us at partnerships@nowhealthcaregroup.com


For the latest in healthcare and innovation, follow @NowGP and @DrNow on Twitter. 

 


The Role of mHealth in Out of Hours Healthcare

In his latest blog, CEO & Founder of Now Healthcare Group Lee Dentith discusses the role mHealth can play in helping the government to fulfill its seven-day service promise. 

lee-headshot

 

The government’s proposed seven-day service has been much discussed in the healthcare industry, and of course, there is much uncertainty surrounding its feasibility and how the goal of providing patients with a more convenient service can ultimately be achieved.

I do feel very passionate about the importance of people in our country being able to access healthcare whenever they should need it. You can never predict when you’re going to fall ill, and it’s imperative that we as a nation are in a position to provide people with an efficient and reliable healthcare service, regardless of what time of day it is or whether it’s a Monday or Sunday.

I was very intrigued to read the thoughts of GPC Chair, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, in this recent article by Pulse. I couldn’t agree more that it’s imperative that we are using our resources wisely in order to help those who are in need of healthcare the most.

For me, as the founder and CEO of Europe’s leading mHealth company Now Healthcare Group, the challenge to fulfil the seven-day service promise is essentially the premise of our business model; we’ve made it perfectly clear that our intention has always been to ensure that people in the UK, and indeed globally, will have access to healthcare when and where they need it.

The mHealth industry continues to go from strength to strength, and it’s incredibly encouraging that businesses and the general consumer are starting to sit up and take note of the potential that the innovative technology carries. This is exemplified by our exciting new partnership with Thomas Cook, which will see us provide our service to UK residents whilst they are abroad on holiday.

It’s clear to me that mHealth simply must be considered by the National Health Service in order to make the dream of a seven-day primary healthcare service a reality. As Dr Nagpaul says, the service is severely underfunded and it’s imperative that any resources it does have are not wasted in areas which will see doctors sat in empty surgeries on a Sunday whilst patients elsewhere continue to struggle to see their GP urgently.

mHealth services such as Now GP provide patients with the opportunity to see an NHS-qualified GP as and when they need. Our aforementioned partnership with Thomas Cook, plus some of our other agreements with the likes of Schools Advisory Service, are concrete proof that people in this country are actively seeking an mHealth solution to make healthcare more convenient and accessible for them.

The coming months will undoubtedly see more big questions asked of the government and its intentions; I for one remain hopeful that, through the adoption of such fantastic and beneficial technology, the seven-day promise can be fulfilled in a smarter, more convenient and cost-effective way.


 

You can read more of my thoughts on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter.

 


London to be Hit Hard by Surgery Closures

CEO and Founder of Now Healthcare Group, Lee Dentith, looks at the weekend’s worrying GP surgery news, with one in five practices in London expected to close down within the next three years.


Rising demand for appointments, doctor shortages and unmanageable workloads will play havoc with primary healthcare in the capital in the coming months. New research among 644 surgeries has confirmed the worst for London practices, with one in five facing the prospect of closure within three years.

This survey reflects the worrying state of approximately half of the capital’s surgeries. As a result of this relentless pressure and strain, it was found that an eighth of London practices are considering scaling back the services they offer. With onsite primary healthcare already inaccessible for thousands of London-based patients, many will be unsure of where to turn with fewer services available and no local clinic to rely on.

19 surgeries have already announced that they will definitely be closing by 2019, with a further 17% of all London practices not ruling out doing the same. Research points to a shortage of family doctors and an increasingly difficult and unmanageable workload as two of several reasons for the potential closures.

As London’s population continues to accelerate – there’s now 8.6 million living in the capital – the accessibility of reliable primary care at the same time diminishes. We’re edging dangerously close to the system as we know it reaching breaking point, and it’s time to have a serious look at alternatives.

Jeremy Hunt has recently finalised a package of emergency measures to relieve strain on GP services – but will it be enough? I found this quote from Dr Naureen Bhatti, in an interview with The Guardian, particularly powerful:

“We’ve had very few applicants [for our GP job vacancies]. We were surprised because we’ve never had trouble filling our jobs before. But it’s become very difficult in the last six to nine months…The vacancies mean that our workload, which is already heavy and rising, has become enormous. I’m absolutely exhausted. I worked from 8am to 9pm or 10pm every day this week and now I often see patients on what are supposed to my administration days because so many people want an appointment.”

It’s staggering to me how we can let our health service reach this kind of drastic state without taking action earlier. The potential of mobile health services has been known by those in the industry for a long time, and it’s so evident that it’s needed now more than ever.

We want to work with the health service to assist them in a much-needed transition to a more tech-minded approach to healthcare. At times like these the industry needs to come together and work differently – we need to use mHealth to be smarter about how we provide the nation with the care it deserves and so badly needs. Through our service we are able to provide patients with appointments from the comfort of their own home – waiting times, appointment demand and poor access to a GP can all be solved through integration with our innovative app.


You can read more of my thoughts on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter.


The NHS Knows It Must Embrace Digital – Here’s Why mHealth is the Answer

Many GPs have had their say on the new proposals from Baroness Martha Lane Fox, who has suggested that GPs should have a contractual requirement to boost the percentage of patients using online services by 10% each and every year.

Earlier in 2015 Jeremy Hunt tasked Baroness Fox with developing practical proposals for increasing the uptake of digital innovations which shows, undoubtedly, that the National Health Service is well aware that it is falling behind in this area and sees it as a matter of urgent concern.

While some clinics have begun to offer commonplace online services such as appointment booking facilities or online test results, it’s imperative that government looks further into the potential of more advanced digital health solutions. It needs to ensure that the quality of care provided by its overstretched health system does not fall and is able to meet growing demands.


Simply making clinic appointments bookable online may save the early morning phone call rush but will do nothing to help reduce waiting times for patients – more needs to be done, and done now.


The presentation from Baroness Fox, made to the National Information Board Leadership Summit, states: “Every GP practice should have at least 10% of its registered patients using online services by March 2017…and aim to increase patient registration for online services by 10% each year.”

With near to 400 million GP appointments made in the United Kingdom each year, if this proposal were to be realised – and done so through the inclusion of more advanced online services – then digital could significantly alleviate some of the pressure on the health system. Simply making clinic appointments bookable online may save the early morning phone call rush but will do nothing to help reduce waiting times for patients – more needs to be done, and done now.

mHealth solutions like Now GP have been designed to integrate with the rest of the healthcare sector, and could reshape the NHS as we know it. If just 10% of patients were to turn to mHealth for their primary care consultation, 40 million appointments per year could be handled by UK-based GPs via video call. As the government plans to ramp up the role of digital in our healthcare, there is nothing to suggest that this figure would not continue to grow.

doctor holding iphone

 

The benefits of a more accessible healthcare solution are widespread. The majority of primary care cases can be diagnosed based on past medical history alone, with video call consultations via smartphone a reliable and practical alternative to face to face appointments – making lengthy waiting times to see a GP no longer necessary.

On top of this, a more accessible GP service will do wonders for our hospital’s A&E departments – primary care is currently so inaccessible on the NHS then people turn to the accident and emergency ward for their minor health problems.

The government’s increased interest in digital healthcare is no doubt encouraging, but Hunt and the NHS need to look further into the possibilities that mHealth could bring for the struggling system – and they need to do it now.

 


A&E Waiting Times Continue to Worsen

New figures from the College of Emergency Medicine make sorry reading for our nation’s health service, as hospitals continue to slip further and further away from their four hour A&E performance targets.

Waiting times continue to escalate in overcrowded A&E departments, with the latest numbers showing that 88% of patients were treated or admitted within four hours – significantly below the 95% target. As well as a struggle to get patients seen by A&E departments, the BBC has reported that there are also problems getting them to leave – in some hospitals, a fifth of all beds are occupied by patients who are ready to leave but cannot be discharged because of a lack of community services available for them.

waiting time figures for a&e departments

Photo credit: BBC

The NHS has taken steps to tackle the issue of overcrowding, with three quarters of UK hospitals increasing their stock of beds in an effort to relieve pressure and a growing number of previously routine operations now cancelled. Despite this, though, the problem continues to grow worse and worse and according to the President of the College of Emergency Medicine, Dr Cliff Mann, the “worst is yet to come.”


Figures show that A&E waiting times have continued to worsen over the past seven weeks


He said: “The majority of hospitals have endeavoured to increase the number of beds available to cope. Despite this, elective operations have had to be cancelled and postponed as bed capacity is insufficient to cope.”

The data collected from the college contains information on waiting times from the past seven weeks, monitoring the level of pressure on hospitals during winter. It shows a gradual worsening in performance since the beginning of October, when just over 92% of patients were seen within the target window of four hours.

Weekly data was previously made available by NHS England and the government themselves, but this stopped recently with data now published monthly with a six-week time lag. The latest information from the NHS, then, is from September and shows the four hour target being missed, along with other targets related to ambulance response times, cancer care and diagnostics tests.

ambulances outside an emergency care centre

 

This unsustainable pressure on our national health service comes as a result of the population’s struggle to receive the primary care that they need. With millions of us struggling to get a GP appointment within a week, patients turn to A&E for what are, quite often, non-urgent matters. Our dynamic telehealth service, Now GP, is aiming to alleviate the pressure on our NHS by supplying the public and businesses with a reliable and affordable alternative to primary healthcare.


Will NHS Cuts Jeopardise Patient Care?

NHS trusts around the United Kingdom have been ordered to draw up emergency plans due to the severe financial challenges that are facing the National Health Service, which have been described as “almost unprecedented.”

As a result of the growing financial crisis facing the NHS, trusts have been told to only “ensure vacancies are filled only where essential,” with nurses warning that such NHS cuts could potentially jeopardie patient care and hospital safety.

The orders have been issues by David Bennett, the Chief Executive of Monitor, the regulatory body of NHS England. He said on Monday:

“As you know, the NHS is facing an almost unprecedented financial challenge this year. Current plans are quite simply unaffordable.

“As I have said before, if we are to do the best we can for patients we must leave no stone unturned in our collective efforts to make the money we have go as far as possible.

“We are already reviewing and challenging the plans of the 46 foundation trusts with the biggest deficits. However, it is clear that this process will not close the funding gap and so all need all providers – even those planning a surplus this year – to look again at their plans to see what more can be done.”

The Royal College of Nursing has since expressed fears that decisions could damage patient care and have a negative impact on safety. Roger Goss, from Patient Concern, suggested that fewer staff will mean longer waits for patients, claiming that “longer waits for treatment will inevitably worsen patients’ suffering.”

As the NHS continues to face unrelenting pressure, it once again emphasises the benefits of telehealth platforms such as Now GP and how we can help to ease the pressure on the health service. By providing patients with convenient healthcare from the comfort of their own home, office or when they’re on the move, Now GP is not a replacement for the NHS – however, we offer patients an effective solution to help cope with the growing demands on the National Health Service.

Get in touch with us today to find out more.