Your Choice of GP: Could GPs simply innovate themselves out of this problem?

NHS Family Doctors in England are currently facing a massive upheaval because of political policies to deregulate them that are being dreamed up in the name of patient choice.

Quite simply all UK political parties support a policy whereby patients in England can register with any GP, regardless of their location as opposed to the current situation in which patients must register with a GP in the area where they live. Here’s the press release announcing the launch of the 12 month pilot:

Criticisms centre on:

> Goes against the whole ethos of a Family Doctor by fragmenting society and communities and preventing Doctors practicing family medicine where they manage the health of the whole family not just the individual members.

> The additional complexity it will introduce. It’s no secret that the NHS has got a lot of gaps in it’s electronic communications systems and removing location commonality would exacerbate these eg. it’s easy to imagine you’ll have nurses/receptionists in London spending their days trying to track and chase up blood testing labs in Oldfield for a patient and similarly you’ll have administrators at blood labs in Oldfield badgering Portsmouth GP clinic’s chasing one off payments.

> What will happen when a patient is incapacitated and can’t travel to meet with their Doctor? Can the local GP (who the patient isn’t registered with or providing funding to) send a bill to the remote clinic for their house call?

> How will the funds be allocated to a given area if the number of patients registered are significantly different from its local population? Would you be happy for your local health resources to be depleted by people who live outside the area? Would you be happy if the resources in your rural retirement community were depleted because the young commuter population decided to give their care to the city clinic operating a 9-5 Mon/Fri walk in clinic?

> Many UK GP practices are at capacity already and couldn’t register more patients. Will this drive the growth of remote super clinics that can gobble up all these patients with a service that whilst not “high quality” is perhaps “good enough under most circumstances, especially if you’re young/healthy”.

Thanks to writing this blog I’m forever being invited to check out innovations being introduced in lots of different NHS clinics and I’ve seen some really amazing things happening (eg. the “Call your Doctor on Skype” services being offered in London by the Hurley Medical Group) but I’m amazed that more aren’t seeing the very simple solution to all this.

If you have a GP clinic:

1) Launch a secure surgery website.

2) Enable patients to securely access their own healthcare records (there are partners you can work with to achieve this eg. Microsoft HealthVault).

3) Add functionality to this system so Doctors and Patients can effectively communicate with one another digitally

4) Encourage patients who have access to the internet to use this instead of phoning to make an appointment or coming into the clinic

5) If you continue to expand your practice and find you can’t handle the remote care workload (evidence shows that through the use of advanced interactive patient history tools up to 80% of family practice consultations can be effectively managed remotely) hire a GP who wants to work from home (the UK has more than 5000 registered GPs on long term maternity/paternity leave) alternatively partner with a company that can help you fulfill these specialist needs.

Of course you could just ignore this advice, drag your heels in resistance to any effective change and then when it all inevitably goes wrong you can proudly remind everyone you told them this would happen ages ago…

About David Doherty
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s