Can Apps Replace Face To Face Consulation?

The NHS has recently been developing a selection of new technology for use at home and in GP practices including wearable technology and static machines designed to identify illness without visiting a doctor personally. However is this money saving strategy the way forward or a step away from the personalised service we all want from the NHS? Sincere Law investigates.


Fast track plans

NHS England’s Chief Exec, Simon Stevens, is imminently set to announce a fast track plan aimed at saving the NHS money. The plans attempt to reduce the amount of patients coming in to GP surgeries in the UK daily.

A selection of gadgets will be given out to patients personally whereas more advanced, expensive equipment is planned to be placed in GP surgeries. Of the new technology, Stevens said “they could save tens of thousands of lives a year”. The gadgets will be a selection of wearable technology similar to the popular fitbits as well as larger machines able to identify a selection of illnesses without requiring an appointment with a doctor.

NHS apps attempt to save money



Impersonal Service?

The opposition to the announcements is concerns that the new gadgets are a shallow tool designed to simply save money and reduce time spent by medical professionals liaising with patients. Computer technology has come a long way since its introduction but when it comes to healthcare, experts believe that human diagnosis and interaction with a trained, qualified, experienced doctors is far better than an interaction with wearable technology or an app.

Sincere Law’s Catastrophic Injury Partner Chris Walker believes it’s a step in the wrong direction for the NHS, saying:

“It would be a missed opportunity if the NHS didn’t attempt to find platforms to help patients identify illnesses earlier; however this new technology seems a very thinly veiled attempt to stop patients from physically seeing their local GP. There is no substitute for a face to face consultation where a doctor can make a qualified diagnosis and suggest appropriate treatment as opposed to a gadget using predetermined sets of answers only capable of acting within the parameters of its programming.”


What Could The NHS Do With technology?

While handing out gadgets to patients may not be ideal from a face to face consultation perceptive, the use of new innovation in the NHS can creative some positive ideas. The “NHS innovation accelerator programme” was launched in 2015 to move the NHS forward by creating new innovations. Currently 68 NHS organisations use one or more of 17 innovations aimed to improve care across the board.

The project works from funding gathered by 17 research fellows tasked with the R&D of new innovations. Following an initial £1 million fronted by the NHS, the researchers found further funding from outside sources, totaling more than £8 million to complete their work.

Important developments as a result of the programme include:


  • Join Dementia Research – a service to match those interested in participating in dementia research
  • Nervecentre – A platform to allow doctors and nurses to easily hand over patient information and share details including assessments and observations
  • MYCOPD – a 24 hour self management platform for patients suffering from COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder)
  • HealthUnlocked – A social media platform for patients to connect with others suffering similar experiences


One of the innovations is HealthUnlocked, a social media platform

The NHS was involved with much press in the last year from the doctor’s strike to the budget and now as part of the referendum. With some positive news required, the NHS could be better off promoting the good work carried out in the innovation fund projects as opposed to launching new ways to avoid contact. Will the roll-out be a success or a failure? Only time will tell.