A new app has been launched by a group of NHS London GPs and Babylon Health to provide a free 24/7 healthcare service to the public through their smartphones.
The GP at Hand app allows users to have a video consultation with a GP, book an in-person appointment, and have prescriptions delivered to a pharmacy.
It also allows patients to check their symptoms with artificial intelligence to reassure themselves and find out what to do next.
CEO of Babylon Health, Dr Ali Parsa, said: “It’s particularly satisfying that our own NHS has become the first health service to harness technology to offer round the clock, accessible healthcare to our people.”
Registering with the app gives GP at Hand access to the patient’s medical records, which will allow the app’s doctors to utilise this information.
The service was trialled in Fulham with around 96% of patients giving it a four or five-star rating, Babylon Health explained.
The app has now launched in London with participating clinics in Canary Wharf, Victoria, Liverpool Street and Euston. A nationwide expansion is being planned.
A spokesperson from NHS England (London) told OT: “We want to ensure that all patients have access to high quality primary care when they need it. Technological advances mean there are now more innovative ways patients can access health services and we are exploring how we can make the most of these.”
NHS England (London) also said that a clinical review of the service has suggested that there may be real benefits for some patients. It added that it is important to monitor the impact of the proposed expansion and to understand who the service is most appropriate for.
Clinical director at the Local Optical Committee Support Unit (LOCSU), Katrina Venerus, explained to OT that it is trying to establish what the symptom checker advises if a patient has an eye related problem.
“For most eye problems, it will be necessary to examine the eye so the patient will need a face to face appointment rather than a video consultation,” Ms Venerus said.
“However, when launching schemes to improve access to primary care, commissioners should be ensuring a minor eye conditions service is in place and the app is set up to signpost patients to an accredited practice,” she added.