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. 

 


Private referrals are on the rise as NHS attempts to cut costs

CEO & Founder of Now GP’s parent company Now Healthcare Group, Lee Dentith, discusses the latest healthcare news in his regular blog. Today’s piece concerns a notable rise in private referrals as doctors are encouraged to ask patients about insurance.

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Something that myself and my colleagues at Now Healthcare Group have spoken about profusely in recent months is the clear correlation between the NHS’ continued financial difficulties and a rise in referrals from GPs to the private sector. Yesterday, in a news article from Pulse, it was confirmed that some CCGs in England are actively encouraging patients to consider using their private health insurance in a bid to cut costs for the NHS, and that referrals are on the rise as a result.

NHS Mid Essex CCG has seen a 6% year-on-year increase in referrals to private healthcare services since practices were contacted and asked to discuss their private insurance options with patients. NHS Basildon and Brentwood CCG, meanwhile, has also introduced a new “Private healthcare; another patient choice” scheme in what is an openly-admitted bid to cut costs.

I found the Readers’ Comments section of this article particularly interesting, with an anonymous GP partner admitting that they are more likely to refer patients privately when they know insurers are picking up the bill:

“When I have a patient with a hernia, or varicose vein I’m not going to refer them on the NHS but as soon as they say they have insurance I’m no longer the gate-keeper.”

We now have tangible evidence that certain GPs and practices will refer patients privately to save money for the NHS, which of course, is bad news for private medical insurance companies who will see premiums rise.

I spoke to my colleague Dr. Andrew Thornber (who is our Clinical Director here at NHG) about the news, and he admitted that this kind of behaviour is commonplace across NHS practices. He said:

“Actively encouraging patients to use their private medical insurance and placing financial considerations above the clinical needs of patients is, in my opinion, setting a very dangerous precedent. Patients should be seen and assessed purely on clinical grounds and subsequent decisions, regarding investigation and treatment pathways, should be based on best medical practice and in accordance with local and national guidelines.”

woman having doctor consultation with a female GP

The aforementioned CCGs have attempted to justify these actions by emphasising that they are only posing such questions “simply to highlight the option for the patient to make a considered choice but by no way impeding on their ability to choose.” However, the figures speak for themselves, and this increase in often unnecessary referrals will undoubtedly not sit well with private medical insurance companies.

We’re currently working with select insurers to help eradicate this kind of unnecessary expense, and yesterday’s news shows exactly why more and more private medical insurance companies are turning to mHealth platforms such as our Dr Now / Now GP mobile app.

Although our doctors are all qualified NHS GPs in their own right, whilst they are working for Now Healthcare Group they are treated as independent – they are not pressured by the NHS or CCGs to cut costs or adhere to budgets and are able to treat the patient’s wellbeing and healthcare as their top priority. By utilising our mobile healthcare services, PMIs are able to provide patients with convenient, accessible care and also avoid paying out for often unnecessary referrals.


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

 


50m Won’t Get Appointments by 2020, 100m Will Wait Over a Week

CEO & Founder of our parent company Now Healthcare Group, Lee Dentith, discusses the RCGP’s new warnings on waiting times for doctor appointments over the coming years.

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Pulse Today has reported yet more worrying news for the NHS this week, and it’ll come as little surprise to many of you that it involves a rise in GP appointment waiting times.

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has warned that, should current trends continue, there will be almost one hundred million instances where patients are forced to wait for over a week to see a GP at an NHS surgery by 2020.

The estimated rise of waiting times is nothing new, and unfortunately has become a spiralling problem for the NHS. What is particularly concerning, though, is that this new analysis also reveals that on 50 million occasions patients will not be able to get a GP appointment at all in four years’ time. That’s 50 million patients who will simply not have access to healthcare when they need it. This is unacceptable and simply cannot be allowed to become a reality.

To put the severity of this predicted rise into context – last year there were 9.4m occasions when patients could not get a GP appointment and didn’t seek healthcare elsewhere; by 2020/21 it could be approximately 47m.

Chair of the RCGP, Dr Maureen Baker, described the new figures as evidence that general practice in the UK is “in crisis.”


“The fact that, if current trends continue, patients will have to wait to see their GP for more than a week on almost 100 million occasions by 2020 is shocking – and poses a clear risk to the health of thousands and patients.

“We now need a guarantee from the new Prime Minister, the new Chancellor and the health secretary that the GP Forward View will be delivered in full.”

Dr Maureen Baker, RCGP Chair


The aforementioned General Practice Forward View sets out a plan, backed by a multi-billion pound investment, to stabilise and transform general practice in the UK. It commits an extra £2.4 billion per year to support GP services by 2021.

For me, it’s absolutely imperative that the funds being promised in this forward view are not just delivered, but used wisely on actions that will visibly improve the situation for the NHS.

We remain committed to doing out part to ease pressures and strains on the NHS by embracing mHealth technologies and helping patients gain convenient and affordable access to primary healthcare. As these new RCGP figures sure, mHealth is exactly what the health service needs right now and we’re excited to help make a real difference through this innovative and effective technology.

 


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.

 


Now GP Named ‘App of the Week’

Following the announcement of our exciting new mHealth partnership with Thomas Cook, we’re delighted to announce that Now GP has been declared ‘App of the Week’ by The Sunday People:

“This lets you speak to an English-speaking UK-based doctor while you go through a video consultation while you are abroad. It can be used in countries both in and out of the EU. Electronic prescriptions can be made available to collect from any local pharmacy.”sunday people app of week now gp

This fantastic achievement for Now GP and the Now Healthcare Group is complimented by more major national press coverage, with news of our new travel partnership with Thomas Cook also reported by The Telegraph, The i, The Mirror as well as several major travel and digital healthcare publications.

In case you missed the news, we’ve partnered with Thomas Cook to provide people on holiday with free access to the Now GP app. Customers with Thomas Cook travel insurance can connect to a doctor through remote video consultation via our smartphone app for advice, diagnosis and prescriptions when they fall ill whilst on holiday.

You can read the full story here.


Keep up to date with the latest Now GP news by following us 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. 

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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.

 


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.

 


mHealth Care Home Study Prevents Hospital Visits

The rise of mHealth continues, and it’s clear that the future of primary healthcare is here to stay. As more and more people take up this rapidly developing technology, more and more benefits are revealed, too. Two mHealth studies have been conducted across the pond at the University of  Missouri recently, touting the value of sensors in monitoring elderly people’s activity and sleep patterns at home.

Researchers are testing radar sensors to measure daily activity levels in seniors (a walking study), with additional sensors underneath mattresses tracking cardiac and breathing activity as they sleep (a sleeping study). It’s part of a long term effort by researchers to use such technology to help the elderly age better.

Majorie Skubic, director of the university’s Center for Eldercare and Rehabilitation Technology, said:

“In-home sensors have the ability to capture early signs of health changes before older adults recognise problems themselves. The radar enhances our ability to monitor walking speed and determine if a senior has a fall risk; the bed sensors provide data on heart rate, respiration rate, and overall cardiac activity when a senior is sleeping. Both sensors are non-invasive and don’t require seniors to wear monitoring devices.”

The walking study was conducted over a two year period, updating seniors on a monthly basis on their activity rates. It analysed data which focused on changes in activity patterns that could indicate potential declining health, able to find that declines in walking speed can determine risks of falling.

bed sensors sleep patterns
The bed sensors tracked sleep patterns in seniors over two years

The sleep study measured heart rate, respiration rate and overall cardiac activity when asleep – how often they are in bed and how long for. Similarly to walking speed, sleep patterns can detect early signs of illness in humans.

All the seniors who were involved in the study were living in homes inside the university’s independent living community – essentially a care home/retirement centre – and results found that those living with the sensors had a stay of 4.3 years over the national average of 1.8 years.

Marilyn Rantz, the director of the program, said:

“If you can get ahead of the symptoms, you can fix the problem when it’s much smaller and avoid the hospital. If you can pick up subtle changes and address them early on, you’re so much better off.”

Early intervention is something we at Now GP have championed for quite some time. By providing patients with access to doctors as soon as they feel there is a problem, our GPs can diagnose them and get them on the way to recovery before the issue escalates. mHealth is all about reducing inappropriate hospital admissions, and that’s exactly what our app does.

To find out more, get in touch. Or, see for yourself – download the Now GP app today!

 


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.