The Role of Digital Healthcare in the NHS

In his latest blog, CEO & Founder of Now GP’s parent company Now Healthcare Group, Lee Dentith, discusses our status as the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator’s only telehealth provider and our ambitions to integrate our technology into the National Health Service.

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NHS Digital: It’s been a pleasure to be involved with NHS Digital at recent events, where I’ve enjoyed a number of exciting discussions with some of our fellow Accelerator partners.


I was delighted to recently come across news of a new “Accelerated Access Review” report, which recognises the role of DigitalHealth.London in accelerating the adoption of digital innovation in healthcare. This positive report is testament to the incredible work being done through the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator scheme, which Now Healthcare Group (Now GP/Dr Now) is so proud to be a part of.

The report, commissioned by the government and led by an independent chair, championed the new Accelerator scheme and its ambitions to allow the NHS to embrace new technologies by linking health and care organisations with digital health innovators such as ourselves. It makes several clear recommendations on reforms to help speed up patients’ access to healthcare technologies. It’s encouraging to see that those behind the review share our ambitions to ensure that the UK becomes a world-leader in healthcare innovation through an NHS which embraces the technology that patients in today’s on-the-go society need.

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“This government has a strong commitment to the life sciences and to building a long-term partnership with the life sciences industry. We are determined to make the UK the best place in the world to develop new drugs and other products that can transform the health of patients.

“The report provides us with a strong basis to make the right decisions about how the health system can be adapted to meet the challenges of the future, attract inward investment, grow the thriving life science industry and use innovation to improve patient outcomes and tackle the financial pressures on the NHS.”

Health Minister Lord Prior


A recent change in circumstances have seen a similar company withdraw from the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator programme as it focuses its efforts on markets elsewhere. This leaves Now Healthcare Group in the luxurious position of being the singular telehealth provider to be a part of this potentially revolutionary Accelerator scheme, which is of course incredibly exciting for us as a business.

As a company we firmly believe that we are the clear market leader in this exciting telehealth industry, and I remain more confident than ever that we are truly ready and able to input our technology into the NHS to help combat many of the issues being faced by our nation’s healthcare service. Better access to technology for the NHS means better access to healthcare for its patients, and our ultimate ambition is to provide the nation with a convenient care and a more accessible health system.


You can read more of my thoughts on LinkedIn (Mr Lee Dentith), and you can also follow me on Twitter.


2 in 3 US Smartphone Users Turn to Mobile Health Services

The potential offered by mobile healthcare services has long been championed by those in the digital health industry, and we’re now starting to see significant uptake of the technology across the pond. Over in the United States, a new piece of research points to a significant rise in the number of Americans taking up smartphone-based healthcare, suggesting that US citizens are becoming more and more comfortable when it comes to using mobile devices to manage their care.

Almost two thirds (58%) of respondents stated that they use their mobile device to communicate with a medical professional. On top of this, 50% of those surveyed said that they have a health, fitness or medication tracking app on their phone.

You can read the full story in this article on the Dr Now website.


US Employers Turn to Telehealth

CEO & Founder of Now GP’s parent company Now Healthcare Group, Lee Dentith, discusses encouraging findings concerning telehealth as an employee benefit in the United States.

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As the UK’s National Health Service continues to creak under ever-increasing pressure and strain, across the pond in the United States there are encouraging signs that the long-awaited telehealth revolution is beginning to gather significant pace.

A new study compiled by the National Business Group on Health (NBG) surveyed 133 large American businesses, who between them employ over 15 million Americans. The results were incredibly encouraging for our industry, indicating that nine out of ten large employers are intending to make telehealth services available to their employees next year.

This is up 20% on last year’s figures, and is a significant indication that telehealth availability is well and truly on the rise as a high priority employee benefit.


“Employers’ focus in 2017 is shifting away from plan design to optimising how healthcare is accessed and delivered. That translates into expanded telehealth services, more Centers of Excellence options and optional selective network choices that focus on providing higher quality healthcare.”

Brian Marcotte, President & CEO of National Business Group on Health


I’ve recently been based in the States on business, and I can confirm that telehealth and mHealth solutions are very much high on the agenda for a number of major organisations. This shift is undoubtedly motivated by an attempt to offset a rise in overall healthcare costs for employers, and provide workers with cost-effective, convenient and accessible care.

NBG states that, should this current trend continue, over 97% of large employers will offer telehealth and remote healthcare services to their employees by 2019. Bear in mind that in 2014 this figure was at just 22%, it shows just how beneficial this technology is proving for both employers and employees.

In the UK employee sickness absence continues to be an ongoing problem. It’s something that collectively costs UK businesses £29 billion each year, with over 130 million working days lost to sickness annually. Poor access to services and lengthy waiting times are of course significant contributing factors to these alarming figures.

We’re starting to see companies begin to embrace mobile healthcare solutions on a similar level to that in the United States, allowing organisations such as ours to provide employers with a cost-effective employee benefit service, and employees with convenient and reliable healthcare access. Now Healthcare Group‘s aim is to eliminate sickness days through early intervention, giving people access to a professional medical opinion when they need one and preventing illness from getting worse by tackling it in its earliest stages.

We’ve already teamed up with a number of businesses to provide our services to their staff, with great results. It’s an exciting time to be involved in this ever-growing industry, and we’re confident that mHealth is well on its way to becoming the must-have employee benefit right here in the UK.


You can read more of my thoughts on LinkedIn, and you can also follow me on Twitter.


Choice is Important: 10% of Patients ‘Never’ See Their Preferred GP

CEO and Founder of Now Healthcare Group, Lee Dentith, discusses the importance of doctor choice and being able to see your preferred GP, one of the many benefits available through our Now GP mHealth app.

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At Now Healthcare Group, we’re incredibly proud to be able to give our mHealth app patients a flexible service which offers convenience and – crucially – choice.

The satisfaction of our patients is something we take extremely seriously, and in the early stages of developing our smartphone apps we spent a long time conducting extensive market research and analysing feedback from our beta-testing stages to ensure we were giving customers exactly what they wanted.

One thing which came to light at this stage was just how much patients value the option to select from a large pool of doctors and make a conscious decision about who they wish to have a consultation with. When it comes to discussing sensitive issues such as your personal health and wellbeing, it’s imperative to feel comfortable with who you’re speaking to – rather than it being an automatic decision made by the app, Now GP gives users the chance to choose exactly who they speak to.

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The main benefits of this are obvious when you think about it. Many patients feel more comfortable about discussing particular health concerns with a doctor of their own gender, for example – Now GP allows you to choose between male and female GPs, which is also a popular feature for patients of certain religious beliefs and traditions.

It also brings added convenience and practically for any follow-up consultations that a patient may have – being able to see a doctor which they’ve already had a consultation is beneficial for both the doctor and the patient.


“One in ten patients never or almost never get to see their preferred doctor.”


Sadly, the convenience and doctor choice offered by our mHealth service isn’t mirrored in the National Health Service, with the latest GP Patient Survey revealing that the number of patients who regularly get to see their preferred GP continues to decline. It found that one in ten patients “never or almost never” get to see their preferred doctor.

Other notable findings from the new survey include over a quarter of patients (26%) claiming that they had difficulty getting through to someone at their preferred GP surgery on the phone and that the number of patients who “always” get to see their preferred doctor choice has fallen by over 6% in the last four years.

As healthcare access and flexibility continues to diminish in the NHS, we’re very proud to be offering our patients an alternative that matches their expectations and brings choice and convenience back to the industry.


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

 


Heading on Holiday? Take a Doctor with You with Thomas Cook

Europe’s largest mobile healthcare partnership will connect holidaymakers to a UK-based doctor whilst abroad with the Now GP smartphone app


 

Thomas Cook has partnered with Now Healthcare Group to become the first travel company to offer customers access to Now GP. The mobile health app connects holidaymakers to UK doctors remotely whilst abroad, providing an enhanced level of care and an even greater peace of mind.

Aiming to boost confidence among travellers and alleviating any cause for concern, medical advice can be sought via smartphone video consultation. If treatment is required, electronic prescriptions can be issued by Now GP and collected from any local EU pharmacy, or used outside the EU for advice purposes.

The partnership, which is the largest mHealth contract in Europe, expands Now GP’s total customer base to over 1 million patients, cementing its status as Europe’s clear market leader in the ever-growing digital health industry.

Now GP has been proven to work on an international scale, recently becoming the only mHealth app to host successful consultations in Europe, North America, the Middle East and Asia. Now, Thomas Cook customers will be able to speak to a doctor back home at the touch of a button via secure, encrypted cloud-based video call.

Those who have taken out an insurance policy with Thomas Cook (through White Horse Insurance Ireland Ltd) can connect with their choice of qualified, male or female English-speaking doctor online. Customers can travel safe in the knowledge that in the event of illness, face-to-face consultations with a GP via video calls are guaranteed within 10 minutes of a request being made.

With recent statistics have finding that one in five of us fall ill when holidaying abroad, Now GP is a fantastic travel benefit for Thomas Cook customers, particularly for families. Consultations are free for the duration of their time abroad, and the app is free to download for iOS and Android devices.

Raising the benchmark among its competitors, Thomas Cook’s newly improved insurance policy reflects the tour operator’s commitment to customer welfare, experience and satisfaction.

Chris Mottershead, Managing Director at Thomas Cook says: “Now GP is a great enhancement to our insurance policy and enables our customers to travel abroad with an even greater peace of mind. Customer welfare and satisfaction is very much at the heart of what we do and it’s through listening to customer feedback that we decided to improve our offering.  We hope that our customers feel even further protected by having free access to an NHS-qualified GP from anywhere in the world where they can connect to the internet.”

Founder & CEO of Now Healthcare Group, Lee Dentith, said: “Now Healthcare Group is thrilled to have partnered with Thomas Cook to provide its customers with a convenient and accessible solution to falling ill or having health concerns whilst on holiday. Those insured by Thomas Cook will be able to connect to a doctor based back in the UK from their smartphone, with our team of qualified GPs able to diagnose them remotely and arrange for medicines to be prescribed from local pharmacies.”

 


 

For the latest mHealth and company news, follow @NowGP on Twitter.

 


Now Healthcare Expands into Asia, Completing First Hong Kong Consultation

Now Healthcare Group is delighted to announce that it has successfully completed its first remote video consultation in Asia, connecting a patient in Hong Kong to a GP based in the UK through the Now GP mobile app.

This latest significant breakthrough for Now Healthcare Group sees it expand into the Asian market for the first time, meaning it is the world’s first mobile healthcare provider to conduct consultations in Europe, North America and Asia, as well as mid-air on board a Dubai-bound flight from London.

The Hong Kong-based patient was connected to a doctor through the Now GP smartphone app, which uses cloud-based technology to allow users to have a video consultation with a qualified doctor in the palm of their hand, whenever, wherever.

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The patient, a UK citizen based in Hong Kong, made the appointment as they were looking to discuss some minor health concerns, as well as seeking general health advice and tips on how they can improve their wellbeing. The patient enjoyed a clear and helpful consultation, with zero disruption and was extremely satisfied with the advice provided.

The patient, who wishes to remain unnamed, said:

“I had read about the service offered by Now GP online and knew it worked internationally, but I wasn’t expecting the technology to work so smoothly. I had a great chat with a doctor and I’m very grateful for the advice I was given. I’m often based in Hong Kong for business so it can be a real struggle getting access to healthcare but I’ll definitely be using it again. I couldn’t fault it.”

CEO and Founder of Now Healthcare Group, Lee Dentith, said:

“We were thrilled to hear about yet another successful international consultation, and this marks a very historic moment in Now Healthcare Group’s history as we move into Asia for the first time. Our tech team deserve great credit for ensuring our system works flawlessly on an international scale and we’re excited to be able to bring our service to people all over the world.”

This latest development comes at an exciting time for Now Healthcare Group, with further innovative projects and platforms in the pipeline. As the Group expands its service internationally, it edges ever closer to its long-term ambition of being able to provide as many people as possible with an effective and convenient healthcare solution.


For the latest healthcare discussion and Now Healthcare news, follow @NowGP on Twitter.

 


Dr Now Announces Rebrand to Now GP

Now Healthcare Group (NHG) is delighted to announce that its flagship product Dr Now is to be rebranded as Now GP in the United Kingdom.

A new logo accompanies the rebrand, as well as the adoption of tagline “Tomorrow’s healthcare now.” The name and trademark ‘Dr Now’ will be retained and used for the growing international mHealth market, now worth $59bn globally. NHG has ambitions to penetrate several international markets in 2016-17, including Asia and the Middle East.

Extensive customer research was conducted by NHG in preparation for this switchover, with 92% of 2,000 patients agreeing that the name ‘Now GP’ was better suited to the UK market due to its strong links to primary care and general practice.

Dr Now was first launched in the UK in August 2015 as the world’s first app to diagnose and deliver medicines from its own integrated online pharmacy distribution hub, Now Pharmacy. This makes the app a one-stop solution for the majority of primary healthcare issues.

It connects users to a UK-based GP through smartphone video consultation, with appointments usually available within a ten minute window and next day delivery of medicines guaranteed. In central London, medicines are delivered in as little as 2-4 hours.

NHG has recently partnered with a number of high-profile business and insurance clients to supply their customer base with this fantastic medical benefit.

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As part of ongoing strategic planning, NHG has also appointed GP Bullhound – a leading investment banking firm – as corporate advisors. Firm director Nick Horrocks said:

“GP Bullhound is delighted to be working with Lee and his highly professional team at Now Healthcare Group. The business is very much at the forefront of future healthcare and will have a transformational impact on how we all view and use healthcare services.”

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

“We felt it was the right time to rebrand the product as Now GP in order to keep it in line with our existing brand identity and upcoming future products. Our customers felt that ‘GP’ was more appropriate for the UK market; it’s a title that evokes trust in general practice and ensures our app is recognisable as a primary care platform operated by fully-qualified GPs.”


View the Now GP promotional video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHcdD0YKdbs.

Download the Now GP app from the App Store and Google Play.

***NOTES TO EDITORS: For more information on the industry-changing Now GP product, visit www.nowgp.com or contact Founder Lee Dentith at lee.dentith@nowhealthcaregroup.com or Jon Taylor at jon.taylor@nowhealthcaregroup.com. Lee Dentith is available for all media enquiries including phone/TV/radio and email interviews. Alternatively, contact Now Healthcare Group on 0161 820 4860. 


Why the GPC Needs to Look at mHealth

CEO and Founder of Now GP’s holding company Now Healthcare Group, Lee Dentith, discusses the GPC’s ambitions to limit the number of consultations GPs can have daily and how mHealth can be used to alleviate the strain placed on our doctors.

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As the government puts the finishing touches to its “roadmap for general practice,” the General Practitioners Committee (GPC) last week called for a maximum limit of consultations to be imposed, ensuring that GPs only see a certain number of patients per day. This proposal comes in an effort to reduce GP workload, allow the quality of care being delivered to still be at the required standard and to solve the ongoing recruitment crisis.

The document has been put together by the GPC based on feedback from local GP leaders at January’s Special LMC Conference. Although a number of possible improvements to the health service have been proposed, the most intriguing is undoubtedly the suggestion that NHS England should set “a national standard for a maximum number of patients that GPs, nurses and other primary care professionals can reasonably deal with during a working day to maintain delivery of a safe and high quality service.”

While this will obviously provide doctors with much-needed relief and a more manageable and safe schedule, what happens to those patients who miss out once the appointment quota has been reached?

It has been suggested that commissioners should “establish locality hubs to which practices can refer urgent patients when they have reached the capacity threshold for safe care on any given day.” While this could potentially be quite effective, it does nothing to aid the convenience of healthcare for patients, and raises questions about who will actually be recruited to man these locality hubs.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul is the chair of the GPC. He said that this important document “brings together practical and deliverable ideas from GPs and sets out a comprehensive, positive and practical approach which, if adopted, would make a significant difference to both practices and patients.”

It’s certainly encouraging to see the GPC acknowledge the issues and concerns of our doctors, but I do fear that we’re overlooking a much simpler solution for patients and practitioners in the form of mHealth. While the GPC has stated that it will look to “maximise the potential of technology,” it’s clear that mHealth has a starring role to play in terms of stabilising the way the healthcare system works.

Rather than refer patients to locality hubs once their local surgery quota has been reached, why not provide them with access to a GP remotely instead? Face to face consultations via video call provide patients with healthcare access whenever they need it, with endless benefits over traditional out of hours telephone helpline services. Given that our services are able to diagnose patients and arrange for medicine delivery, mHealth makes a physical GP visit unnecessary in the majority of cases.

It’s not just patients who would benefit from an mHealth solution either – our Now GP / Now GP product embraces flexible working hours for doctors, allowing GPs to work as much or as little as they wish. It brings added convenience for both doctors and patients, and doesn’t see patients turned away from their surgery and told there is no more room for appointments on that day – it’s a reliable service designed to bring convenience back to healthcare and fit the needs of today’s on the go society.

We want to help the NHS adapt and manage this ‘bottleneck’ which sees more and more people in the UK struggle to get appointments. The Now Healthcare Group vision is, and has always been, to provide a convenient healthcare solution which works for everyone and alleviates the strain on our health system, reduces the pressure that doctors are under and provides patients with access to a professional medical opinion whenever they need one. For more information, please get in touch with our team today.


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


4 Million Now Queue for Same-Day Appointments

In this week’s blog, Lee Dentith – CEO and Founder of Now Healthcare Group – looks at yet more worrying statistics concerning primary healthcare access in the UK.

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The winter flu season may finally be over, but sadly the pressure on NHS surgeries continues to mount. Another day, another series of statistics revealed from a rather damning survey of over 9,000 UK patients from across the country.

What stood out most to me was the fact that the number of people forced to physically queue for an appointment at their local NHS surgery has risen to an astonishing FOUR MILLION. Elderly and unwell patients are, in some cases, forced to queue outside the surgery doors in order to get seen on the same day – some are arriving at surgeries at daybreak and still face waits of several hours.

Our surgeries are often so overwhelmed by demand that they are routinely asking patients to wait outside, with those in the Patients Association condemning the situation as unacceptable – prolonging the suffering and discomfort of those who are often in urgent need of medical help.

When it comes to appointment waiting times, the numbers simply continue to get worse and worse – immigration, a shortage of doctors and an increasingly-ageing population are three major contributing factors for why patients in this country are continuing to suffer. The current model of healthcare in the UK just isn’t working, and the stats revealed from this latest survey make this simply undeniable.

Of 9,116 patients surveyed – all of which were in their over 50s – 33% said that they were unable to secure an appointment with a GP within seven days. Incredibly, up to two million are forced to wait for three weeks or more for an appointment, while many patients are routinely made to wait over one month just to see a doctor.

It’s not just the actual appointments which patients are queuing for, either – surgeries receive countless calls each morning from patients requesting to be seen, with many on hold for anywhere between 20 minutes to one hour.

A news article looks in depth at these figures, focusing on surgeries in South England which have become notorious for their lengthy waiting times. North Street Medical Centre (Romford, Essex) allegedly sees as many as 50 people queueing outside of the surgery doors each morning with receptionists admitting that patients “struggle to get a seat” when they do eventually make it into the waiting room. Another surgery in South East London sees queues which are 30-strong with patients regularly waiting up to two and a half hours to be seen.

The Royal College of GPs has pointed towards a shortage of doctors as a major reason for this, with nine in ten surgeries now forced to rely on locums because they are so short of permanent GPs.

To be frank, things need to change and they need to change now. The NHS system continues to creak under continued pressure, and it’s a system which is failing to attract new doctors and one which is also failing its patients.

Our vision as an mHealth organisation is to provide patients and GPs with a much-needed alternative. Our platform embraces flexible working hours for doctors to help them enjoy working in healthcare once again. We give patients the chance to speak to a MRCGP-certified doctor within a ten minute window via smartphone-based video call. We can even arrange for you to have your medicines delivered to your home or work address.

As a nation we need to think about the way we access and offer healthcare and think differently and smarter. We have the technology in place to ensure that patients aren’t forced to physically queue for appointments – it’s archaic and there is no place for it in today’s on-the-go society. It’s time for change, and it’s time to embrace mHealth.


Accident & Emergency Misuse: We’re Here to Help

In his latest blog, Founder and CEO of Now Healthcare Group Lee Dentith discusses the misuse of accident & emergency departments in UK hospitals and how mHealth can be used to reduce inappropriate admissions.

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As I was browsing through last week’s news stories, I found myself once again reading a story concerning the worrying misuse of our nation’s accident and emergency facilities. Peterborough City Hospital recently reported a phenomenal 40% rise in patient numbers, with countless patients turning up with issues for which a trip to A&E were completely unnecessary.

It was reported that one woman turned up to the hospital as she had a broken finger nail, while another complained of suffering from hiccups! This is simply not what A&E is for – and, in all honesty, it isn’t something which healthcare providers have the time to be dealing with.

“Unprecedented numbers” are turning up at A&E departments on a regular basis, at a cost of around £120 to the NHS each time someone comes through the door.

This quote from chief operating officer at Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Neil Doverty, is rather worrying:

“On Sunday and Monday our staff treated some 700 patients over the two days, which equates to 40% more patients than the usual average attendance. [People need] to think about the treatment they need before they come to A&E.”

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While the broken nails scenario is presumably something of a one-off, a dangerous number of people are using A&E services for health issues which are simply not appropriate.

As a nation we have to take a step back and think about why this is continuing to happen, and a lack of access to primary care is undoubtedly a major contributing factor. In today’s busy “on-the-go” society, people don’t have the time to wait weeks for an appointment with their local GP. This means that when people fall ill, even if it’s minor issues like coughs and colds, they will head straight to A&E departments or NHS walk-in centres to seek help.

This is where we come in. Mobile healthcare is a fantastic alternative when it comes to primary care access. What we need right now is to alleviate pressure on the health service as much as possible, and our products have been created for exactly that purpose.

By connecting patients to a GP through their smartphone, our Now GP platform has been created for ultimate convenience and to help reduce the number of these inappropriate A&E admissions. The current model isn’t working – it’s time to embrace mHealth and the benefits it can bring to our society.