Using technology to ease the burden on primary care

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Enfield investigated patient's perspectives on the use of technology in primary care, specifically the use of the NHS symptom checker featured on a website or app, video calling and emailing to seek medical advice from a primary care physician, and GP online services. This was achieved by hosting 37 engagement events and collecting feedback via paper and online surveys between August and September 2018 from 1,071 local residents. The report found that 76% of people were aware of the online GP services in Enfield but use of the online services remained low. 63% of respondents indicated that they would use a trusted NHS website or an app to check their symptoms before seeking advice from their GP. In regard to having GP appointments via online services, 60% indicated they would use video calling services to consult with their primary care physician but this differed depending on age, with younger people more likely to use such services. 66% indicated they would email their GP to seek medical advice, however, again, younger respondents indicated they would email a GP to seek medical advice more than older respondents. Recommendations were made but it was noted that change will take significant time. This is because a patients who have a firmly rooted belief in face-to-face contact with primary care physicians will find the use of technology daunting. Consideration will also need to be given as to how the introduction of new technological solutions does not widen the health inequality gap by making access easier only for those who can afford the right equipment or who are computer literate. In addition, it was suggested that further exploration is required into the reasons behind the differences of views and habits of the various ethnic groups within Enfield, in order to ensure that the technological solutions work for all.

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General details

Report title 
Using technology to ease the burden on primary care
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Enfield
Date of publication 
Tuesday, 22 January, 2019
Date evidence capture began 
Monday, 6 August, 2018
Date evidence capture finished 
Friday, 28 September, 2018
Type of report 
Key themes 
Digitalisation of services
Information providing
Patient records
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
How was the information collected? 
Engagement Event

Details of health and care services included in the report

Primary care services 
GP practice

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
Specific ethnicity if known 
Sexual orientation 
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Does the information include staff's views? 
Types of health and care professionals engaged 
Does the information include other people's views? 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Not applicable
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.