A GP behind the app

Following our recent series with colleagues advocating for personal lists and locum models of work Dr Hannah Allen of babylon health, explains what it is like to work behind the app. 

Day-to-day work

Day-to-day work at babylon is very varied. I usually start around 8 o’clock and tend to see a full range of patient problems, which is in fact very similar to the case mix in my NHS surgery. This includes everything from common minor ailments to more complex issues such as mental health problems. I can pick and choose the hours that I work, which is a huge bonus and I can easily do the shifts from home or the office. This gives me that added flexibility of working around family life and nursery runs.

One of the real advantages of clinical sessions at babylon is that there is no paper work. The referrals are all done by automated software that generates letters based on the notes already typed. Medication is prescribed and the prescription is sent straight to the patient’s chosen pharmacy.

Another important aspect of my clinical work is answering patient queries via our ‘message a clinician’ service. We can receive hundreds of these queries a day and we answer all of these with individual responses. The content of the queries coming through really varies, which means that you’re always kept on your toes and it also offers a fascinating insight into the burning questions patients wish to ask about anonymously! These are concerns that patients have had for years but haven’t had the confidence to ask a clinician before.

An alternative model of work

Babylon uses a different model to the one that I was used to previously within the NHS setting. Our model uses secure audio or video calls to consult with patients via the babylon app which is supported by a bespoke clinician and administrative platform. The numbers of consultations that are closed meaning that the patient does not require any further ongoing management is consistently over 85%. The service offers an accessible way of seeking medical assistance in a timely manner which is a huge bonus for patients – especially parents of young children, housebound patients or patients who struggle to find the time to visit the doctor due to work commitments. This is often very well received by patients, which gives the clinicians a great sense of validation.

There are a few limitations…

There are obviously limitations with this service from an examination perspective, however if you think about the amount of time you would actually spend examining patients in your normal surgery, it is often much less than you might think. There are also numerous clinical techniques that I have developed to enhance my ability to examine patients remotely. These include examination of patient’s joints via video consultation and asking patients with sore throats to use a torch on their camera to illuminate their tonsils clearly to help assess their centor criteria. I have a lot of experience in telephone triage and video consulting so I feel very confident in managing most scenarios I encounter. However, at babylon we have a free digital course for GP’s who would like to practice scenarios in a supportive environment prior to going live on the portal.

…and many advantages as well

The support team who provide endless assistance to the GPs behind the scenes are incredible and make our working life so much easier also. This contact is facilitated by a live chat function that enables instant communication with the support team. Despite the remote nature of the work, this enables our GPs to feel entirely supported during their sessions.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoy my babylon work and I really believe it offers a great service to patients plus has the knock on effect of relieving the ever-growing pressures on the NHS. Many of our GPs, are only able to do extra sessions with babylon in addition their NHS work, because of the convenience of no travel time and being able to work flexibly at a time that suits them and their other commitments. Ultimately this means they are working additional hours when they would not have done otherwise.

Dr Hannah Allen, 

In-House GP for babylon 

  • Erl Annesley
    Posted at 17:10h, 26 April Reply

    Not sure about the pricing. For £50 per annum does the member get unlimited doctor App consultations for six days a week during the day?
    I realise specialist tests and advice are extra..
    Good luck with it, should do well.

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