Let's discuss the one thing that riles almost every person living in the UK: how long it takes to get a doctor's appointment. Where I live, the receptionist informs me I either have to wait a month to see a doctor or have to ring up every single day in the hope of a cancellation. And I'm far from alone. So it's no wonder that people are turning to
doctor's appointment apps for diagnoses and prescriptions.
Over the past couple of years, a few different names have popped up on the medical scene. They all offer you the chance to video call a doctor, have prescriptions sent to your home or a nearby pharmacy, and even be referred to a specialist. All for a small price, of course. While these kinds of apps may have sounded sketchy in, say, 2016, more and more people are now utilising their quick, easy, and reliable services.
A recent study carried out by healthcare company Benenden Health and Medical found that the average UK adult has to
wait at least a week to see or speak to a doctor. As I'm sure you'll agree, it's not an ideal situation.
The following apps may cost you, but they can be a useful tool when you realise you've run out of medication, for example, or when you have a non life-threatening illness that can easily be diagnosed over video. Just don't use them for medical emergencies.
1 Push Doctor
Push Doctor believes that GP apps are the future of healthcare. Available on iOS and Android devices as well as standard computers, Push Doctor
allows you to see a GP via video within minutes. It can issue a prescription and send it to your nearest pharmacy and email any sick notes to you instantly. A huge bonus is that it's open 56 percent longer than your average GP surgery with opening times between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. seven days a week.
Appointments cost £30 and last for 10 minutes. Prescriptions cost £8 while sick notes and referrals will set you back £15. Alternatively, you can sign up for a £3 a month membership which reduces appointment costs to £20, gives you free prescriptions, fit notes, and referrals, and allows you to speak to the GP for as long as you like.
Babylon offers two services. The first
is available nationwide and gives you the choice of speaking to a GP via video or audio. You should be able to get an appointment within 30 minutes and can add any photos or notes before the consultation. Once you've been diagnosed, the doctor will send your prescription to a pharmacy of your choice or straight to your door. And if you forget their expert advice, you can always replay the appointment. Each session costs £35. Or you can get unlimited consultations for £9.99 a month or £89.99 a year.
Babylon's secondary —
and free — option is currently only available if you live or work within 40 minutes of its five London clinics. You will receive the same level of care as the paid service and can usually get an appointment within two hours. The only downside is that you have to switch from your current practice to register for the service. There is, however, always the option to switch back. 3 Now GP
Now GP calls itself "Europe's largest virtual GP service." All of its NHS doctors have several years' experience and, after a video consultation, can issue you with referrals, fit notes, self-test kits, and prescriptions. These can be sent to your local pharmacy or delivered the very next day to your home or office.
The app —
which is available on both iOS and Android devices — is even working to personalise patient profiles, giving doctors the opportunity to monitor people's health and detect early signs of illness. Other features include the ability to filter doctors by gender, language, and even area of expertise. A one-off consultation will set you back £42.50 while an unlimited subscription costs £7.99 per month. 4 Livi
Livi is similar to Babylon in that it
offers both a paid and free service. The former is available throughout the UK while the latter is only available in select areas. (To find out if you're eligible for the free service, simply enter your postcode into the app.) It can be installed on either your mobile or tablet and will let you book an appointment with a GP in the next few minutes, hours, or up to seven days ahead.
Advice, referrals, and prescriptions (which can be delivered to pharmacies) are all part of the package. The service is open from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on weekends. Your first appointment is free of charge with future consultations costing £49 each. This fee includes every outcome, including prescriptions and sick notes.
i-GP isn't actually an app, but it's the
cheapest digital option on the market. The site uses a special doctor-designed software called Si, which asks you a series of questions that assists real-life doctors with diagnosis. You should receive an assessment from a GP within an hour of completing the questionnaire and can have prescriptions sent to a local pharmacy.
Your symptoms can be assessed 24/7 and every doctor that uses the service has at least 15 years' experience. Every diagnosis costs £10 but if i-GP is unable to treat you, you will receive advice free of charge.
I suppose this is the future. Better get used to it.
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