Virtual GPs - the future of healthcare?
Employers have a duty of care to employees working overseas. And employees may expect to have access quality medical care when they need it.
But, this is not always as straightforward as it sounds. Especially for those who are remotely based and have no GP access, as well as executives who are busy and don’t want to take time out of the office to see a doctor. The industry is responding to these demands by offering virtual GP services. Employees can access experienced, highly-trained doctors via smart technology for:
- health assessments,
- diagnostics, and
- further treatment, including prescriptions.
What are the benefits?
Employees in remote locations can access a doctor whenever they need to. Depending on the service chosen, this can include video and telephone appointments in your preferred language, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Additional benefits can include:
- Reassurance for you and your staff that they can instantly access quality advice.
- Potential to reduce delays for treatment for those who are busy or who don’t want to travel or take time away from work.
- Global prescription services can deliver prescriptions direct to mobile.
- Quicker diagnosis and treatment can make it easier for your employees to stay healthy and be productive.
- Potential to reduce the cost of insurance. If members speak to a doctor online it reduces claims for GP visits. This cost containment could help control your premiums, assuming the insurer passes on some of the saving.
- It can also help differentiate your company. Offering a valued benefit to improve staff retention and recruitment.
Are there any limitations?
- The ability to “touch” and see a patient removes some of the skill and ability of diagnosis – so there is a risk of missing things.
- Not all staff may be comfortable with online consultations or the technology that supports this.
- It may not always be possible to recreate the culture of the health infrastructure in all countries due to lack of understanding.
- Prescribing drugs locally in a foreign country can be tricky as the doctor needs to be registered and qualified in the location. Many providers are dealing with this by using central resources, or triaging them into the local health systems.
- Whilst there are several solutions in the marketplace, some of these are still developing.
- This is still a new concept. How will the market cope when this catches on and demand becomes huge?
As we can see the benefits of virtual GPs are huge. It’s easy to see the potential for success with a globally mobile workforce. But, with all things there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. Make sure that you’re aware of the scope of use and limitations of virtual GPs. There is still some progress needed to give us confidence that a robust solution exists for almost all situations.