It seems all our basic needs are taken care of these days with a click of a button. There are apps to cater to our growing appetites for international food, best price accommodation and spontaneous travel so why not cater to our need for the fast, efficient delivery of care?
With the likes of Uber and Deliveroo taking care of the hassle and delays associated with takeaways and taxis, the rise of mobile healthcare apps seems a sensible step in bringing ease and speed of service to our health needs that often get neglected due to uncompromising schedules.
Local practices have started to offer access to NHS GPs by video using the LIVI app. It is a free service on the NHS allowing patients access to GPs between 8am to 8pm on weekdays and 9am to 12pm on weekends. The app with online GP access addresses the strain on walk in centres and ten-minute GP appointments as well as tackling the challenge of seeking support in out of work, evening hours. Such apps can act as a triage service of sorts in instances where physical examinations are not always required.
Virtual care technologies certainly have their challenges, and by no means minor ones, including the successful management and execution of complex licensing, privacy and security requirements.
Maintaining high standards of clinical accuracy is another such challenge but one that can be managed with clear instruction as to what services can be met virtually and those that can not. Virtual care will have its limitations and as long as that is made apparent to those seeking the service as well as effectively managed by those providing it, mobile healthcare can potentially result in more multi-faceted, consistent and accessible care. Mobile healthcare is going beyond video sessions with GPs by also providing support for patients tackling ongoing illnesses and fighting readmission as well as those including carers, friends and family seeking easy access to specialist, educational tools.
Mobile healthcare is an exciting step when acknowledged as exactly that – a significant step – and by no means a replacement for the full journey of care.