How long have you had to wait for a doctor’s appointment? The whole process can be frustrating, if not incredibly stressful; having to ring the surgery at opening time exactly to fight for a prime position in the telephone queue. Then, there’s the wait to hear that your appointment might not be for days, or even weeks. And that’s the last thing you want when you’re under the weather and worried about your health.
According to the BBC, nearly 5 million patients each month wait more than a fortnight to see their GP – despite Government expectations that patients should see their GP within two weeks. The question is could they have spoken to a GP sooner?
There are many reasons for the long wait times at the moment, and our NHS GPs and staff work extremely hard, under significant pressure and strain, so it does make sense to consider what alternatives are on offer. With the constant news of unprecedented waiting times and frequent difficultly accessing GP services, many people may not know that they could have access to a GP digitally and are even unaware that this service exists!
A high number of life and income protection insurers now include access to GP services, so it’s important for people to be aware of what is a benefit on their current policy.
GP services are often added onto a life or protection policy alongside other package benefits, usually using a third-party provider, such as Square Health, Teladoc or HealthHero. There are no additional costs to these services, but often they are not written into the policy contract so could be withdrawn.
What is a digital GP?
A digital GP may sound complicated or hi-tech, but in reality, it’s very straightforward! The term simply refers to an online GP service that means you can access support faster, via an app or website.
You can book your appointment online and will be seen via a virtual call within minutes, where you can ask questions, get advice, be referred to specialists or for physical examinations, just like an in-person GP.
How can these GP services be accessed?
Insurers that provide the additional services usually require you to download an app, and login using your policy number and details. This process can vary across providers. This will then allow people to book an appointment either via video or telephone.
The quality of the service is strong for both methods, but some people will have a preference over video or telephone call. It is also worth noting that in some cases, you may need to video if you need to show the GP something, rather than simply explain.
An additional benefit like this means you could get 24/7 access to medical advice, whenever you need it – a GP in your pocket! Other benefits can include getting a second medical opinion on treatment, mental health support, and personalised health check reports.
Please do contact your insurer to see what additional GP services you may have access to or why not visit their website for more details.
Can you get a prescription via a digital GP?
In cases where you might need medication following a GP consultation, insurers include a private prescription service. In all cases, there is of course a cost to use the private prescription, both for the medication itself and for delivery if needed. But this service can be so valuable, especially when used to speed up the time it takes to get access to medication.
It’s important to be aware that any prescriptions provided through these services will be private prescriptions. An NHS prescription will cost £9.15, however a private prescription requires the patient to pay the full cost of the medication, which, depending on what is prescribed, could be quite costly.
How many times could a person use a digital GP service?
How often you can use digital GP services can vary across insurers, but some allow you unlimited access each year to a GP. When you think about the value of this, it’s huge! No more waiting in a queue at 8am and hearing “you are number 15 in the queue, please hold” … Instead, you can use your app to simply book your appointment!
Also, it’s worth noting that some providers also allow you to use the digital GP for your spouse or children, giving you peace of mind knowing your family is covered.
How A-Plan can help
Working out your life insurance policy and knowing what you need included can be intimidating – but A-Plan are here to help! We’re here to answer any questions or queries you may have, to help match you with a policy that suits your needs.
Call or visit your local branch, where one of our helpful, friendly team can help you get the advice you need.