How Mobile could tackle the strain on GP surgeries

By Nina Bibby, CMO

Last week, I was pleased to see the NHS announce a pilot scheme called GP at Hand to offer patients across London doctor’s appointments via their smartphone. This has the potential to reduce waiting times and free up A&E departments at critical times, which could transform our National Health Service and improve accessibility in Britain.

76% of the UK now own a smartphone and Ofcom data has shown that adults are now more likely to access the internet through the mobile, rather than a computer. As many as one in six adults rely solely on mobile devices, which is a trend that’s increasing year on year.

We use mobiles throughout our lives to make everyday experiences easier and more enjoyable. From shopping and banking, to finding a property and staying motivated to get fit, our mobile has become the remote control for life. I can’t live without mine, and I’m so excited to see its value being extended to such an important public service. Thanks to the NHS, 3.5 million Londoners can now add GP appointments to the growing list of things they can do on their mobiles.

Babylon’s existing paid-for service (the platform behind the NHS trial), is particularly popular with male patients. Men typically visit the doctor less than women (I know this from personal experience!), which can lead to greater instances of serious conditions remaining untreated. It’s great to know that mobile is encouraging men to get the treatment they need. My husband now has one less excuse to avoid speaking to his GP!

As a working mother, I also know how challenging it can be to make a GP appointment whilst navigating the work and school schedule. You can easily spend up to half a day booking a slot or waiting in line at a walk-in clinic. That could all now be reduced thanks to our trusty smartphones!

GP at Hand can also help those who previously haven’t been able to access GP facilities as easily. Smartphones can enable those with physical impairments, for example, to speak to their GPs from the comfort of their own home – a great example of mobile as a social leveller.

Whilst the service is currently only available to Londoners, the plan is to extend it to other parts of England. This will be particularly beneficial in rural areas where patients face long wait times due to GP shortages or have to travel greater distances to surgeries.

This is a proud moment for the Mobile industry and Britain as a whole – regardless of the outcome of the trial. When it comes to mobile’s contribution to accessibility in Britain, we have only just explored the tip of the iceberg and there is so much more to be achieved. But I’m really excited to see the NHS embracing mobile and I encourage more big organisations, both public and private, to do the same.

MOBILE is one of the UK’s most powerful opportunities to stabilise and strengthen our economy. Join us on our mission to make mobile a national priority. Mobile moves Britain, so Britain needs to move mobile.