There is a lot of press about online GPs destabilising normal practices and I have previously blogged about why don’t these companies work with general practice rather than against us. Well, I’ve come across an online GP service, that does seem to be working with practices not against them, that I don’t think is getting enough publicity.
Q Doctor appears to do all the usual – it has an app – you can speak to a GP online however it is free to the patient and is booked through the practice not direct. The practice pays as its effectively buying in a virtual locum. Practices hire locums all the time to do surgeries. In some areas its easier to find locums than others. Sometimes you don’t want to hire them on their terms. Locums often want a full day – or half day – or surgery only. Sometimes you just want 2 hours covered or you know it’s going to be busy 5-6pm. or 8-10am. Sometimes you need visits covering, sometimes you need the early start or late finish. I’m not saying all locums are bad, some are incredibility flexible and I understand that they are in it for a living too, it’s just in some areas if you don’t have much choice it can be very limiting.
Well Q Doctor links you to their network of locums who work from home online – so no travelling to you – and can be hired on an hourly basis whenever you want. This gives you access to effectively any locum in the country. What’s better is as they are working for your rather than say in a separate service – they can access your records and my understanding is they record their consultations in your system. Its taken Q Doctor a while to sort this but it apparently works.
Ok the patient needs to be ok with online – and perhaps reception need training to offer it in the most effective way but here is a superb opportunity to assist general practice not harm it. Locally we are hoping to use them for some extended hours access and I’ll feedback but give them a go – their pro-general practice ethos deserves support.