Solution offers improved access to healthcare for UK carers
London-based health-tech specialist, iPLATO, has launched an enhancement to the myGP app; offering improved access to healthcare to help support the millions of unpaid carers in the UK.
The Circle of Care feature has been expanded from giving parents the ability of booking GP appointments for dependents under 12 years old, to offering any myGP user who is 16 years old and above the ability to book a GP appointment remotely from their smartphone for a friend or family member in their care, so long as both GP practices use iPLATO.
Future iterations of this service will focus on the ability to fully support their friend of family members’ treatment.
Transforming access to primary care offers obvious advantages to patients and their carers, but it also benefits commissioners and taxpayers.
An NHS patient survey found that 10% of patients who cannot get an urgent appointment at their GP practice go straight to urgent care services including A&E. As such, there is a nationwide push to ensure that GP appointments are used effectively to help reduce the burden on emergency services at both a primary and secondary level.
An ageing population and improved life expectancy for people living with long-term conditions or complex disabilities means more high-level care will need to be provided for longer.
Carers make a major contribution to our society, with estimates showing that the care provided by friends and family members to ill, frail, or disabled relatives is equivalent to £119billion every year. There is also an increasing prevalence of ‘sandwich carers’, currently estimated at 2.4 million in the UK looking after young children while caring for older parents at the same time.
Improving and simplifying speedy and easy access to care remotely for those people looking after both children and frail elderly relatives, can significantly reduce both burden and worry, especially for parents juggling work with caring responsibilities.
Early adoption of Circle of Care has already seen positive uptake. Since November, myGP users have been able to register dependents under 12 years old so that they can book healthcare appointments for them. This has proved popular with parents, with over 6,000 children registered on myGP in the last three months.
This service expansion comes at the same time as iPLATO launches another pioneering capability on myGP, allowing patients to access their medical records remotely on their smartphone.
Both initiatives support the drive to improve access to GP services and medical history, thereby empowering patients to better manage and take an increased role in their own care.
And it also fulfils a regulatory requirement by NHS Digital enabling clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to promote the myGP app to all surgeries that reside within their catchment area.
The strength of myGP lies in its simplicity and ease of use, starting with the registration process to access online patient services.
Patients register remotely using their date of birth and mobile number registered with the GP practice. Following a quick authentication process, they are ready to go, with functionality including secure ‘WhatsApp-like’ practice-patient messaging, appointment booking and cancellation, medication reminders, and self care support tools, for example weight and blood pressure monitoring.
Tobias Alpsten, chief executive of iPLATO, said: “Mobile phone penetration crosses both the socio-economic and age divide, with eight out of 10 people aged between 65-74 years of age owning a mobile device.
“We are all incredibly excited about the ability of myGP to really make a difference in giving improved access to GPs, while at the same time simplifying and speeding up the GP appointment process for carers and ultimately helping to improve patient outcomes for those living with long-term conditions.”