A group of North Yorkshire GPs are to become some of the first in the county to trial “teleconsultations” via the popular online video services, Skype or Facetime.
Springbank Health provide GP facilities for villages situated between Knaresborough and York, reaching as far south as Tadcaster and Boroughbridge to the north with the main GP Surgery based in Green Hammerton.
Video appointments will be offered in addition to those appointments already available to patients in person at the surgery or by telephone.
The video appointments will initially be with one specific GP in order to gather patient feedback on how to tailor the service moving forward.
Dr Richard Tatham, partner at Springbank Health said: We understand that not every patient finds it easy to get to an appointment. A video appointment can often be more convenient for our busy patients, as they will be easier to fit around their other responsibilities, or for patients who have conditions that make it physically difficult to visit the surgery. Where appropriate, patients will be asked if they would like a Skype appointment, with the GP calling the patient at the time of the booked appointment. As a Practice we continually review the services we provide our patients and given the ever growing dependency on technology, we feel we can offer an improved patient experience by introducing video calling. For a large number of our patients it can often be difficult to get a suitable appointment particularly if the patient is either working, not in the area or simply unable to attend in person.
Dr Angela O’Donoghue, based at the Green Hammerton Practice said: One of the biggest concerns from our patients is that they struggle to book suitable appointment times around their daily commitments. On average, most patients visit their doctors once or twice a year, and those in full time work often do not have time to get non-urgent symptoms checked. Patients with physical disabilities can also struggle to travel to a doctor’s appointment particularly in rural areas. Depending on the condition, a video appointment is far better than a phone call, as there’s a certain amount of expression and movement that I as a GP can see in real time. I hope that many of our patients will see the benefits of the video appointments and try this new service. If the NHS is to meet the growing demand placed on its services then it needs to embrace digital technology.
Patients will be able to request a video appointment by calling their GP Practice reception and any patients with a question about this new service should contact their surgery or visit www.springbankhealth.co.uk. Skype is a free download for any computer, mobile and tablet.