Convenient access to your GP – what’s not to like?

Convenient access to your GP – what’s not to like?

General Practice is in crisis. A record number of GP practices closed last year as a result of growing patient demand without the requisite funding and workforce to respond. So a new app-based service for Londoners, which offers information services and video based consultations must be a good thing – right? The launch of GP at hand, which promises that you can see a GP in minutes for free, has been widely covered in the press. Whilst it has its fair share of promoters, they are some notable detractors. The purpose of this post is to curate those concerns and to consider implications for the future of digital in the NHS. What is GP at hand? GP at hand is a new NHS service offered by a GP Practice in partnership with the commercial company Babylon. The practice offers registered patients the ability to book an appointment via the app, have a video consultation via the app 24/7 and within two hours, pick up a prescription from their chosen pharmacist, visit one of six clinics in London Monday to Saturday. The app, which is powered by Babylon, also offers a symptom checker, health monitoring, and the option to replay your appointment so you can remind yourself of what was discussed. The app offers convenience, quick access and the ability to speak to a GP anytime and anywhere. A quick reminder about how General Practice works General Practices offer primary care services to a local community. On their website, NHS England say they are ‘at the heart of our communities, the foundation of the NHS.’ Most GPs are independent contractors...
Carebnb and the law of unintended consequences

Carebnb and the law of unintended consequences

Along with the title: “NHS may rent spare rooms to ease bed crisis” The Guardian ran a story this week, on what it describes as an Airbnb style scheme designed to help alleviate pressure in the NHS, by enabling patients ready to be discharged from hospital to recuperate in a private home. The story, which was first featured in the Health Service Journal, was also covered by Roy Lilley in his regular blog where he raises a host of concerns about CareRooms including safeguarding, exploitation, safety, training and regulation. However, beyond the obvious concerns, he asks the more fundamental and interesting question: “The real issue is not if CareRooms can be made to work safely.  The real issue is why are we even contemplating this? … Austerity is the mother of innovation and here is an innovative solution driven by the mother of all austerity.” On its website, CareRooms offers hosts £50 per room per night, and the promise of up to £1000 a month, for providing a bedroom and three supplied microwave meals for a discharged patient. The website incorporates pictures of hotel style immaculate bedrooms along with a reassuring narrative: “We are working with the local health and care community to provide a safe, comfortable place for people to recuperate from hospital.” Co-founded by a doctor, CareRooms was conceived out of real struggles with shortages in social care, and makes a compelling case to solve what is a well-reported strain on the NHS. It has the support of the NHS clinical entrepreneur programme and I have no doubt it is positively intended. So if the concerns raised...
Digital resilience: how health and care practitioners can help teens with mental health difficulties

Digital resilience: how health and care practitioners can help teens with mental health difficulties

I’ve recently written a blog post and report for NHS Digital’s Widening Digital Participation Programme based on a review of the evidence along with interviews and focus groups with young people. The report focuses on digital resilience of teens with mental health difficulties. You can find the blog post here and the full report...
Connected realities – what do practitioners need to know about teens’ online lives?

Connected realities – what do practitioners need to know about teens’ online lives?

“What if we thought about the internet a resource to be deployed rather than as a problem to be solved?” (Jenkins et al, 2016, p.36)  What if we move our focus from a deficit orientated understanding of the online lives of teens to an asset-orientated approach which builds on young people’s strengths? And what does this mean for practitioners working with teens who have mental health difficulties? Perhaps there are better ways of approaching teens’ online lives that enable us to be more effective practitioners. I am endlessly intrigued by teens’ use of the internet, social media and digital technologies. It is a fascination brought about in equal parts from observing my three teenagers and from the many and various projects we do with teens at mHabitat. I am particularly curious about how health and care practitioners help teens navigate the digital sphere (or not) in their everyday work. Practitioners are worried about the impact of social media on teens, concerned about risk, and at the same time drawn to how apps could help deliver care. Meanwhile teens are frustrated about adults’ lack of understanding about their online lives and are looking for guidance and support which is often lacking. This set of disconnected realities between teens and practitioners is the subject of a book I am writing with Dr James Woollard. It is a guide for practitioners to help them explore, understand and appreciate teens’ online lives; and to enable them to incorporate this understanding into their work with adolescents affected by mental health difficulties. The book will bring together the evidence along with stories derived from my...
Towards a manifesto for digital health #socialjustice

Towards a manifesto for digital health #socialjustice

What would a manifesto for digital technologies grounded in social justice look like? In other words, the development of digital technologies in health and care that enable an equitable distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within society and which balance the interests of individuals, communities and institutions. After all the NHS is a collective endeavour – each of us contributing so that we all have access to health and care free at the point of demand. A few weeks ago I co-facilitated the first of mHabitat’s three Digital Humanities in Health and Care seminars along with Dr Helen Thornham from the School of Media and Communications at the University of Leeds. Along with a group of practitioners, technologists and academics, we considered the role of ethics and justice in respect of the inexorable rise of digital technologies in health and care. Mark Brown, one of our speakers, talked about the contested notion of social good in sphere of digital health: “Delivering public services is a political act. The shape of public services and how they feel are defined by political and historical realities. The decision of who pays tax, what taxes they pay, upon whom those taxes are spent and who it is that does the work is political. The ‘social good’ is not an uncontested idea. The culture of Silicon Valley is increasing looking, in the American phraseology, like a dumpster fire. Libertarian ideas run riot, with the very ideas that our public services in the UK are founded upon are seen as a deadly infringement of the rights of the individual to choice. Low tax, low regulation...