Expansion of controversial GP app has been blocked

Aug. 22, 2018

In the U.K., the planned healthcare app, GP at Hand, has had its expansion blocked by NHS bosses who fear patient safety issues

GP at Hand app—an app created by private firm Babylon Health to allow patients better access to their doctors—has had its planned roll-out blocked by NHS chiefs.

The app was created to reduce pressure on primary care by enabling 24-hour connectivity to healthcare experts, but those responsible for the block have cited ‘patient safety’ as the reason.

Health secretary Matt Hancock wants to see the technology ‘available to all’ on the NHS, but new concerns over patients missing tests, screening appointments or treatments due to not being registered with a local GP have halted GP at Hand’s expansion.

Patients have to de-register from their local family doctor to use the app, which has created a fear that they will suffer by switching. Currently, national screening services such as mammograms can only be accessed via the patient’s GP referring them to local services.

GP leaders are concerned about virtual consultations and fear that serious, less obvious symptoms that doctors pick up when they see patients in real life, will be missed.

Others say the app ‘cherry picks’ young and healthy patients, which can financially destabilize traditional GP practices.

Since it was launched in west London, more than 26,500 people have signed up to the service—including Hancock himself, although he wants it to be something that is not simply available to ‘the select few’ in the capital.

Babylon had applied to launch a physical branch to see patients in the U.K.’s second-largest city, Birmingham, but the plans were blocked by Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) due to patient safety concerns relating to local infrastructure.

A GP at Hand spokesperson said NHS commissioners had been given plenty of pre-warning of its expansion and should have put necessary plans into action for the sake of patients.

Practice Business has the full article

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