The notion of a ‘Digital GP’ may still conjure sci-fi images of robot-doctors for some - but for many - video consulting has become a viable and effective alternative to a trip to the surgery, for routine GP appointments. The number of patients searching for online GP and prescription services almost doubled from 2014 – 2018 and demands for technology which aids patients to administer their own medication saw a dramatic rise of 597%. 
Video consultations could obviously never replace all in-person trips to the doctor; physical examinations, vaccinations and emergency treatments still require face-to-face consultations. But - when you begin to think about it - it’s surprising how many appointments are perfectly suited to a video call. And for those that are, what’s not to like? No driving to the surgery, trying to find somewhere to park, and - most relevantly - sitting in the waiting room exposing yourself to something much worse than your initial reason for attending.
Whilst Private Medical Insurance policies have provided the benefits of a Digital GP for some years now, coronavirus has undoubtedly accelerated the mass acceptance of them, and made the service more valuable and relevant than ever. Video consultations have played their part in alleviating the strain on the NHS and have been invaluable for putting people’s minds at ease during worrying times.
Here are our top five reasons we love Digital GPs. We have also compiled below the highlights of each insurers’ own Digital GP service from our top insurance companies. If you would like a more in-depth comparison our advisers are always on the end of the phone to help.
The average wait to see an NHS GP in person tipped over the two week point in August 2019 according to a poll by Pulse. The research found the average waiting time was 14.8 days and more than one in five of the 901 GPs who responded said the wait time exceeded three weeks and one in 20 said it was more than four weeks.  We all love the NHS, but even Lord David Prior, Chair of NHS England concedes in the NHS England 2018/19 Annual Report, ‘It is too difficult to see a GP’.  Sometimes, we just need something snappier. Modern pace of life has lulled us into an Amazon-induced next-day-delivery coma - waking up to a fortnight wait is painful. We’ve all been there - that prescription we need before leaving for a trip… in 48 hours! Not a problem for your digital GP.
No waiting for the surgery to open or sitting through a recorded message - booking your Digital GP is done through an app. Just choose the time and date that suits you and book the appointment with a few clicks. The majority offer appointments at any time day or night, seven days a week. They can do same-day appointments and Aviva could even be booked as little as 30 minutes before. Appointments can also be booked from around the world. So - if you are in a far-flung location on holiday, as long as you have an internet or phone connection, you can still have a reassuring check in with a GP back home if there’s something worrying you.
A trip to the doctors is never anyone’s favourite activity - but putting off a small concern now, could have huge consequences long-term. Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GP’s defended the NHS in the findings from Pulse, but did concede that; “People are waiting too long for routine appointments, and the concern is that non-serious conditions might deteriorate, or patients give up trying to see the GP and we miss signs of serious illness early when it could be dealt with simply and more cost effectively in primary care.”  When appointments can be made at the click of a button and taken from wherever you are, there’s no reason not to check in with the doctor and get that niggle checked out. None of us are immune to serious illness and early diagnosis can be lifesaving. With cancer as an obvious example the World Health Organisation makes it clear; “The consequences of delayed or inaccessible cancer care are lower likelihood of survival, greater morbidity of treatment and higher costs of care, resulting in avoidable deaths and disability from cancer.” 
Digital GP’s mean you don’t have to choose between convenience and being proactive about protecting your health; you can have both.
Prescriptions can be written by your Digital GP and are usually available for delivery direct to you at your home or your office. Repeat prescriptions can be on the NHS and deliveries in London can even be with you later in the same day.
Many of the services offer a secure record of your consultation history, so you can revisit the advice and be sure not to miss anything. GP’s can also offer referrals to specialists directly following the video consultation.
It is possible to choose the doctor you would like to see; you can choose their gender as well as even being able to view a bio and choose someone who specialises in the area you require. Some companies extend the service to offer paediatric consultations for members’ children who are under 16. Many of the insurance companies have extended the service to be available to Life and Protection Insurance policyholders also - to support the effort throughout lockdown and beyond. Some benefits also extend to include video consultations with physios and mental health care as well.
If you are already a Private Medical Insurance policyholder, make sure you are making the most of all the benefits you have. If you don’t currently have a policy and you would be interested to know more about the other benefits you could be enjoying - get a quick quote and allow one of our experienced advisers to talk you through the options.