For those of you who have not experienced the frictionless new world of telemedicine, you may be excused for not believing this headline.
Your disbelief is supported by data. According to the King’s Fund, the number of GP appointments went up by 13% this year; increasingly, people are finding it harder to see their GP at their time of choice. A survey by Pulse (a publication for doctors) found that the average waiting time for a routine appointment is two weeks(!) This is not limited to the UK. Across the pond, in a very different healthcare system, there is a very similar picture emerging.
There are two key factors which explain why this is happening. The first is a simple demand and supply equation. An ageing population and an increase in chronic disease mean that people need to access health care more frequently.
The second is a change in expectation. People are so used to accessing services on demand they expect the same of healthcare (and are puzzled why they can’t do it when they can get banking, cars, food, pets and even priests on demand). Of course, healthcare is special, which means quality is more important things that work deserve greater credit.
With PushDoctor, people don’t have to choose between living their lives and looking after their health.
More fundamentally, the epidemiology and sociology of illness has changed. People have never had so much access to information about their bodies. In fact, it’s not uncommon for patients to arrive at an appointment, having looked up their conditions online, to know more about the potential conditions they have than a GP. A desire to live longer, and maintain health, means there is now a desire to gain medical advice not only when we are incapacitated or have a severe medical condition.
The existing system prioritises how urgently patients need help and what the immediate consequences of not getting help are. Cure, rather than prevention, is the modus operandi. A good healthcare system should be able to do the important and not overly focus on the urgent.
Traditional measures of access and infrastructure can only hold so long in today’s digital and connected world. To claim that our citizens have good healthcare access, a GP surgery near your home, open 9 to 5, is probably necessary but it is no longer sufficient.
Today, my Venture Capital firm, Draper Esprit, are pleased to announce we are co-leading a new investment in PushDoctor, alongside new investors ADVand Seventure and existing investors (Oxford Capital, Partech). We first invested in PushDoctor 18 months ago and have been working closely with Eren, Matt and the excellent team they have been building. The company offers a really simple, high quality and affordable video consultation with a UK qualified GP using an app on your smartphone, tablet or computer. They are putting a doctor in your pocket so you can get medical advice anytime, anywhere.
With the new capital raised, PushDoctor will march ahead with the single goal of making high quality healthcare easy to access.