The benefits of remote GP services for small businesses

10 August 2020

There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot when it comes to our everyday lives. Whether your team is starting to come back into the office, or you’re working from home for the foreseeable, the way we work has had some adjustments over the past few months. According to figures from the ONS, in April 2020, nearly half (46.6%) of people in employment did some of their work from home, with the vast majority (86%) of these homeworkers stating that this was because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.1

As well as impacting our working lives, the COVID-19 pandemic has also changed the way we access GP services. This is evident in the fact that, in the four weeks leading up to 12 April 2020, 71% of routine consultations in general practice were delivered remotely, with about 26% being face to face.2  This is compared to the nearly 81% of appointments which took place face to face in 2019.3

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How can remote GP services benefit small businesses?

Remote GP services can have a number of benefits for you, your team and your business. From more convenient appointments for your team, to reduced time away from work.

GP appointments can be difficult for you and your team to get to, particularly if they’re during working hours or are far away from the office or from home. 41% of adults surveyed by AXA PPP healthcare said they had needed to take a half day or more off work to attend GP appointments over the last 12 months.4 Having to rearrange plans and the working day around an appointment can add to the stress and worry of being unwell. Plus, when you or one of your employees is particularly busy with work, it can be difficult to find the time to attend an appointment. According to our research, 30% of those surveyed said they never see a GP when sick because it’s too difficult to get time off work.4

Remote GP services can give you and your team greater flexibility over your appointments. This means that you can fit them in when it works for you, reducing the impact that it can have on your day. You can often have an online GP appointment in the evening, first thing in the morning or even at the weekend – whenever works for you.

Giving your team the option of being able to have an online GP appointment can also help to reduce the stress and worry that can come with taking time off work in order to attend an appointment. According to our research, 38% of survey respondents said they’d feel much better mentally as a result of the speed and ease of access of speaking to an online GP.4

Remote GP services often come with the added benefit that you and your team can see a doctor quickly, so you don’t have to spend longer than you need to with a health worry playing on your mind. According to our research, a third (33%) of respondents think they would’ve taken fewer sick days if they could have seen a GP sooner.4 This means that it can also benefit your business, as it may help to reduce the time that your team needs to spend away from work due to ill health. Having the opportunity to see a GP quickly can also help to reduce the risk of presenteeism (where employees attend work despite being unwell). 

Online GP services can also save you and your employees time as you don’t need to take time out of your day to travel to your appointment, you can arrange it for a time that’s convenient for you. This could benefit your business too. According to the CEBR, businesses across the country could avoid the loss of up to £1.5 billion in economic output by eliminating the travel time required to attend initial GP appointments in person.5

If you’d like to read more about digital health and the changing landscape of how we access GP services, you can read our report here.

Unlimited access to our 24/7 online GP service

At AXA PPP healthcare, regardless of the cover options that you choose, you’ll get unlimited access* to our 24/7** online GP service, Doctor@Hand (provided by Doctor Care Anywhere) when you take out business healthcare cover with us.

Doctor@Hand comes with the following benefits for you and your team:

  • Convenient video or phone appointments – With Doctor@Hand, you can book an appointment online or through the app at a time and place that suits you. Whether that’s on a Sunday morning or in the middle of the night (subject to appointment availability). Appointments are 20 minutes long, giving you plenty of time to discuss your health concerns.
  • Choice of doctor – You can choose your doctor by name (if you’ve seen them before), by the areas they specialise in or by gender if you’d specifically like to speak to a male or female doctor. All of the GPs are qualified, experienced and registered with the General Medical Council.
  • Medical records at a touch – If you need a reminder of your conversation with the doctor, a copy of your notes is uploaded directly to your patient record. Full medical records can even be provided to your NHS GP to make sure your medical records are always up to date.
  • Prescriptions delivered to your door*** - If you need a prescription, you won’t have to visit the chemist to collect it. You can have it delivered straight to your door.

Find out more about Doctor@Hand

Find out more about our small business health insurance, including what is and isn’t covered, and get a quote today

*Doctor Care Anywhere’s fair usage policy applies

**Subject to appointment availability

***Available in most circumstances. Out-patient prescriptions and deliveries are not covered by the scheme 

Sources and references

1Office for National Statistics, 2020

2RCGP, 2020

3NHS digital – Appointments in General Practice, December 2019

4AXA PPP healthcare conducted omnibus research through 3Gem research between 13 – 17 February 2020, polling 2,000 UK adults (aged 18+), weighted to be nationally representative.

5On average GVA per hour in the UK was £35 in 2018, although this varied around the regions and nations of the UK, from £46.33 in London to £29.19 in Wales. The growth in hourly pay between 2018 and 2019 (3.9%) (according to the ONS Annual Survey of House and Earnings 2019) is used as a proxy measure to uprate this value to £36.40. This is the estimated GVA per hour, across the UK, in 2019. At an average GVA per hour of £36.40, a travel time saving of 0.73 hours from each face-to-face appointment (as outlined in reference point 19) avoided would save businesses £26.40 in lost output. Reference point 13 identified up to 118.8 million face-to-face appointments that could be reduced by use of virtual GP services. If 50% of these were avoided by those in employment, during working hours, then the total GVA savings to businesses in 2019 would potentially have been as high as £1.54 billion.