The quality of care you receive at your GP surgery can be a location lottery. Last week I attended a walk-in clinic because my surgery didn't have a free appointment for a couple of days when I called – and when they do, the doctor is usually running late. I've also found one of the GPs at the surgery particularly unhelpful. At my last address however (where I was registered at a different surgery), appointments were available on the same day, waits were short and doctors were attentive.
Whatever your experience of doctors' surgeries, it’s hard to deny the appeal of being able to see a GP almost instantly and without leaving your bed. Perhaps this is why more and more paid-for GP services are springing up on the web. The website and app Push Doctor
, for example, can get you a speedy diagnosis via your webcam. And while the medium might not be appropriate for every common ailment, it is growing in popularity. Earlier this year, Push Doctor surveyed just over 1000 British adults and found that more than 1 in 5 Brits have communicated with a GP online in some way, while 1 in 7 have already used video consultation services to speak to a doctor from their home.
Push Doctor has racked up thousands of hours in video calls from users since its inception in 2013, and they’re not alone in the service they offer; Doctor Call also offer paid for consultations with certified GPs; Healthcare Express allow you to live chat with a doctor via your keyboard; and Boots, Lloyds and Superdrug also offer online video services for a small cost. Being able to order repeat prescriptions online and book appointments for your surgery via its website is not a new thing – but there are now a host of websites and apps selling consultations with qualified doctors. A friend tells me he regularly uses an app called Babylon for “small things that you need a prescription for when you can't be bothered to go to the doctor.” It works on subscription and costs him £5 a month.
Eren Ozagir is the CEO of Push Doctor. He founded the company after he fell ill in the United States and “wanted to experience a friction-free process by which to see a UK doctor.” The website’s appeal, he says, is that it’s so simple: “Users tap the app and see a doctor in six minutes,” he tells me. “They get their issue resolved there and then.” Ozagir says that Push Doctor particularly appeals to people who have “found visiting a traditional surgery difficult either due to work commitments, pressures at home or mobility issues,” and adds that parents-to-be or new parents, as well as people in rural areas, have been particularly receptive to the service. He says, generally, it’s not a service only enjoyed by people who are used to paying for healthcare: “PushDoctor.co.uk is designed for everyone and so absolutely the majority of our users are the 89%
of the population without private medical insurance.”