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...
Digital leadership – kill or cure?

Digital leadership – kill or cure?

Is there such a thing as digital leadership? This article for the Harvard Business Review makes the case for it and this online course says it will teach you the requisite skills. But is there anything qualitatively different to being a leader and to being a digital leader? This question has been on my mind recently: firstly because I was recently invited by Mike Chitty and James Freed to speak on this topic at their ‘kill digital’ session at eHealth Week in which they put the notion of digital leadership under the spotlight and gave it a good kicking about; secondly because I’m co-delivering an mHabitat learning set for a group of leaders who are responsible for transforming care through digital technologies in eight of the new models of care vanguards. What are the qualities required of NHS and social care leaders who are transforming services enabled by digital? Here is what our learning set participants identified: Enthusiasm– the ability to enthuse and engage others Tenacity – keeping on when others might give up and remaining focused on the task Curiosity – being open minded and keen to find novel ways to improve services Reflective – learning from mistakes and finding new ways to move forward Credible – the ability to gather information, to be well informed and to make the case Collaborative – being willing to collaborate to get things done Having courage – trying new things and take calculated risks Pragmatic – starting small and adapting to new circumstances. None of the above qualities are specific to digital technologies but all relate to the ability to work...
How can digital innovators give their ideas the best chance of adoption in the NHS?

How can digital innovators give their ideas the best chance of adoption in the NHS?

So you’ve got a fantastic idea for a digital technology or maybe you’ve developed something which you think could add value to the NHS. How do you give your idea the very best chance of adoption in a health service which is still only just beginning to understand the potential value of digital technology as an enabler to better health and care? I recently ran a workshop on this theme at the Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network Digital Health and Wellbeing Ecosystem meet-up.  With a room full of people who have thought about this tricky question from many different angles I think we made some way towards finding a few answers. So here are 15 tips for starters: 1.Build adoption in from the get-go It may sound obvious but our adoption map made it clear that adoption must be built into the very beginning of your idea development. Considering at the end may only lead to having to go back to the beginning again. 2. Develop your core idea (or understanding of the problem you are trying to solve) before you think about technology Sounds obvious too? But it’s worth noting the technology isn’t always the answer and if it is the answer then you can only know that once you’ve defined the problem well. 3. Identify your *user* *chooser* and *buyer* The person who uses your technology (perhaps a patient) may not be the person who chooses the technology (a health practitioner) who may not be the person who can buy your technology (provider or commissioner). Take them all into account early on and identify benefit...