Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

Interpersonal interactions with patients and doctors still crucial says Christian Medical Fellowship

Sun 18 Aug 2019
By Ruth Sax

Online health checks will be offered instead of face-to-face GP consultations to millions of patients, as the NHS looks to overhaul its screening system for conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

According to figures from the Department of Health, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced 14 million 'low risk' people aged between 40 and 74 could now see their 5-year check-ups happen online.

The tests, at present carried out at a GP surgery by a doctor, nurse or healthcare assistant, check for conditions such as kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

 

 

Low-risk patients may have to take blood pressure readings, answer online health questionnaires and talk to a doctor via an app.

Steve Fouch from the Christian Medical Fellowship told Premier:

“They're looking at this really only for what they would call low risk people. So people who haven't actually got obvious health problems, it's a way of trying to reduce the number of people necessarily physically presenting for an appointment.

“Not a lot of people actually access their GP for health screening. That is one of the big problems is that many people do not go to these appointments anyway. So making them online might not actually make any big difference.

“These things will require you still to go in to a GP surgery to have a blood test and obviously you can weigh yourself at home, but you're not necessarily going to have the equipment to check your own blood pressure properly.

“All of those sorts of other things you actually do need a health professional to be there with you. There’s another dimension to all of this that's quite important that often gets left out and that is the interpersonal interaction.

“Expert systems and computer systems are going to be more and more part of what happens in healthcare in the years to come. They can really help with diagnoses and with certain types of treatment and sometimes are more effective and more efficient than a human being, but they never work properly unless there is a human element involved.”

Earlier in the year a survey revealed that 89 percent of millennial GPs found it hard to spend enough time with patients to develop trusted relationships, although more than half felt this was one of the most important aspects of providing patient care.

 

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