Apps, Primary Care News

One Health Lewisham adopts virtual health assistant to reduce burden on GPs

One Health Lewisham, a federation of all 38 GP surgeries in Lewisham, has signed a two year deal with Sensely and its partner Advanced to deploy the virtual health assistant app, Ask NHS.

The solution will enable general practices to better manage patient demand, reducing the burden on and saving time for overstretched doctors.

The app will be rolled out across three early adopters by the summer and One Health Lewisham anticipates it will initially be used by up to 77,000 patients. The 35 remaining practices are expected to adopt it by the end of 2018, in time to help reduce the expected rise in pressures on health services during winter.

Ask NHS allows patients to access clinically validated health guidance and information. It enables patients to check their symptoms (via voice and text), obtain self-care advice and book or cancel an appointment. The symptom checker, based on Advanced’s clinical decision support technology Odyssey*, helps determine the urgency of a patient’s case and directs them to the most appropriate person. Patients are able to access the application 24/7 at their own convenience and download it for free. They can use their name and D.O.B to register and the Ask NHS application links them to the GP practise they are registered with.

Prad Velayuthan, One Health Lewisham CEO, is leading the project and hopes the Ask NHS GP application will become a blueprint for general practices in the rest of the UK. “We see incredible value in technology to empower patients to self-assess and, while it may take some time for some GPs to embrace a disruptive technology, I’m confident the app’s obvious benefits will eventually be accepted and adopted by everyone.”

Adam Odessky, CEO and Co-Founder at Sensely, comments: “GPs across the country are under phenomenal pressure and One Health Lewisham is no exception. All demand on the NHS ultimately funnels down to general practices, so doctors are extremely busy and the demand on reception is relentless. Ask NHS GP working in collaboration with primary care will empower the patient and support general practice. Through our partnership with Advanced, we will be able to help One Health Lewisham better manage the flow of patient care and place digital access to their local NHS in the palm of their patients.  Our objective is to support greater efficiency across the whole system by reducing workload while better serving patients”.

Because the application provides patients with on-demand access to NHS services 24/7, and encourages self-care, not every patient will have to see a GP. Ask NHS GP connects to Lewisham’s GP systems EMIS so, if a patient is advised to have an appointment or is called back for telephone triage, the GP is already aware of the problem and the consultation process is more efficient.