Will New GP Apps Take The Pressure Off 999?


Over the past few years the amount of people who call 999 for non emergency situations has risen to such a point that it has prompted the NHS to put out posters and ads telling people to stop calling. The strain that it puts on our health care is huge, particularly when the NHS is facing so many cuts at the moment. So, with the introduction of these new DR Apps online, will it take the pressure off, or is it something to be wary of? Everything new has pros and cons, but when it comes to our health, the benefits have to seriously outweigh the negatives.

The arguments for GP apps centres around the fact that it makes it a lot easier for you to talk to a doctor. And with the base of the apps created with skilled doctors, the advice you get is completely valid. The annoying thing about making an appointment at the doctors is the fact that it’s a universally acknowledged fact that you can never get one at a time you want on the day you need. And by the time your appointment date rolls round, your symptoms will have completely cleared up. So having the option to contact a doctor at your convenience would be incredibly helpful. Although in those instances you won't be able to have the same GP as you would have been going to for years.

There are also the limitations surrounding them actually seeing your symptoms - how can they properly assess you without being there with the right equipment? Where there are probably a whole host of things that they can help you with through a video chat, there will still be the cases where you will still need to go and see a doctor in person. Although the beauty there is that you know that you're going for an actual reason and not just because you might possibly have a cold.

This vetting process is also accompanied by and AI (Artificial Intelligence) vetting system that you message before seeing a doctor. With the level AI technology is at, this is a fantastic way to ensure that time wasters don't get through and, well, waste time. However, can technology be a replacement for human interaction and judgement? And if it does function to a high level, it is possible for it to make mistakes. But, then again, so do humans.

There is also the issue of accessibility. Some are hailing GP apps as the new way forward for doctor surgeries, but what about the older generation? Yes there will come a point where everyone knows how to use an app, but what about when the next wave of technology comes and takes over the simple app, will we be facing the same issue? The question here is whether the traditional way works and we shouldn't fix what isn't broken, or if we should be looking to incorporate more technology into our lives.

A smaller issue centres around illness itself; so many people pass through a doctors surgery every day, and you can bet that not all of them wash their hands and cover their mouths when they cough. So having the app does illuminate the need to go into the building of illness, which can always be a positive.

And, lastly, we need to consider the money. As GP apps are still fairly new, there hasn't been much research into how the NHS can incorporate them and whether or not it would save them money - which would be great as that money can be redirected into other sections of the medical system. Or whether it would cost more to have both the apps and the physical doctors open at the same time. If having both is incredibly beneficial, then the extra money would be worth it right? But if not , then would we see GP apps being used solely for private practices, and not for everyone?