At your Virtual convenience

Digital GP services have been a part of health insurance policies for some time. However, the global pandemic caused by COVID-19 has not only increased their usage, but it has also helped change the perception of seeing a GP or consultant without visiting a surgery or hospital.

Video consultations helped to alleviate the strain on the NHS during the pandemic. They offered a safe way for people to access advice for minor conditions, repeat prescriptions and annual check-ups. There are many other benefits for the patient including not having to drive to the surgery, and if a doctor is running late not having to sit in a crowded waiting room.

Virtual GP and consultant appointments will never replace all medical appointments, there will always be a need for physical examinations. However, there are a lot of appointments that can easily be done over a video call.

The acceleration of growth in digital GP services has led to the development of many excellent benefits, which insurers now include as part of their core offering. It means access to private healthcare is even easier and more wide ranging than before.

We have highlighted below the reasons we think digital GP is a great benefit and is here to stay.

Booking appointments

One of the biggest frustrations with getting an appointment with your GP is having to call early in the morning and wait on hold to get through. Often, any last-minute appointments they make available on the day are gone within minutes of the surgery opening.

With the digital GP services offered by most leading UK health insurers you can book an appointment for a video call over an app on your mobile phone. With most insurers now offering 24/7 access to the service, appointments can easily be made even if you are overseas on holiday. Some insurers offer same-day appointments or sometimes within the hour. This means you can have reassurance and peace of mind, or an important referral to a specialist within a few clicks.

Waiting times

It was reported in November 2019 that the average wait to see a GP in person was over two weeks, with 44% of people struggling to get an appointment with their GP at a time that suited them. For most people this is a long time to wait if you are worried about a new symptom or need a prescription to alleviate pain.

The way we live now has changed, we have faster access to services in other areas of life and lead busier lives, planning an appointment that far ahead can be tricky. Most insurer digital GP services offer an appointment within 24 hours, with some offering evening and weekend appointments.

Early diagnosis

By having convenient access to an appointment with a GP you are less likely to put off getting a new symptom checked out. When an appointment is made at your GP surgery for two-weeks’ time it can end up no longer being convenient and you decide to cancel it. Additional wait times for referrals can impact on a prognosis in the case of cancer. In the worst cases it can lower the likelihood of survival and result in avoidable deaths from cancer.

With digital GP services you can get advice and any onward referrals quickly and at a time you know will suit you. There is a far higher chance you will stick to an appointment made for the following day than one in two weeks’ time.

Choice of GP

With a traditional GP practice the choice of GP’s is usually limited to only a few and they may not specialise in the area you require advice on. Most leading UK health insurers allow you to choose which GP you would like to book an appointment with. You can read about their background and expertise in a biography available to view in the app. You can also choose their gender and area of specialism. Although they may not have your full medical history, sometimes seeing a different doctor can end up providing a different view of your condition and possibly even alternative treatment options. Some insurers include advice on mental health issues and remote skin assessments as part of their digital GP service.

We have summarised the digital GP services offered by the leading UK health insurers below.

AXA Health – Doctor at Hand

  • Powered by Doctor Care Anywhere.
  • 24/7 access to private GP video consultations.
  • Choice of GP gender.
  • Unlimited twenty-minute appointments.
  • Appointments usually on the same day.
  • Onward referral to a specialist.
  • Prescription service.
  • Advice available when you are overseas.
AXA mobile app
Aviva mobile app

AVIVA Health – Digital GP

  • Powered by Square Health and accessed through the AVIVA Digital GP app.
  • Login via a computer or your smartphone.
  • Appointments within as little as thirty minutes and available 24/7.
  • Up to five video consultations per year (unlimited on business plans).
  • Choice of GP gender.
  • Read GP profiles to choose a GP who best suits your needs.
  • Re-book with a GP you have seen previously.
  • View consultation history and advice given in the app.
  • Repeat NHS prescriptions, with free delivery.
  • Pediatric consultations for members under 16.

Bupa – Babylon

  • Powered by Babylon and accessed via an app.
  • Unlimited appointments within 24 hours but usually sooner.
  • 24/7 access.
  • Symptom checker.
  • Prescription delivery service.
  • Rapid cardiac assessment.
  • Remote skin assessment service.
  • Physiotherapy advice and treatment plans.
Bupa mobile app
Vitality mobile app

VitalityHealth – Vitality GP

  • Unlimited video consultations within 48 hours via the Vitality GP app.
  • Minor diagnostics.
  • Symptom checker.
  • Skin analytics service.
  • Referral to a specialist.
  • Written prescriptions.
  • 24/7 access to a GP advice line.

The Exeter – HealthWise

  • Up to four video consultations per year with a GP using the app.
  • Prescription service.
  • Referral to a specialist.
  • Second medical opinion (up to two per year).
  • Consultations with a physiotherapist (up to six per year).
  • Mental health consultations (up to six per year).
  • Dietician consultations (up to six per year).
  • Lifestyle and nutrition consultations (up to six per year).
The Exeter mobile app

If you already have private health insurance, you may want to understand more about the digital GP services you are entitled to, we can help you with this.

If you are looking at taking out health insurance for the first time you may want to know a bit more about this policy benefit and how it differs between insurers.

Our expert advisors understand all leading UK health insurance products and are available to go through the options with you on the phone.

We offer a free, no obligation quote.

Call us now on 0800 028 5540

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Can I get a same day appointment?

Many insurers can offer an appointment on the same day, some within thirty minutes.

What if I do not have a smartphone or tablet?

Although most insurers digital services are accessed via an app on your phone or tablet, some will be able to offer you a telephone appointment, or an online appointment using a computer.

Will I still need to see my GP for a referral?

No. The digital GP services include onward referral to a specialist if needed.

Can I book a virtual appointment if I am abroad?

Yes. All insurers allow access to their digital GP services from anywhere in the world.

Will using the digital GP services be counted as a claim?

No. Using digital GP services will not affect your no claims discount. It will only count as a claim if you are referred for a consultation with a specialist and the insurer pays for this.

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