Established in 2014, eConsult arose organically out of a south London surgery. Murray and his colleagues were frustrated with the model of general practice, “which had remained unchanged forever”. “To see a GP, you have to get on the phone and book an appointment, then we have to bring you into a building and sort something out. Like everyone, we knew technology held the key.” But video alone didn’t solve much, because you still needed 10 minutes with a doctor and 10 with a patient at the same time. There was no real efficiency saving. Plus, it might take three of those minutes to connect to the patient. You’ve lost a chunk of time just because the broadband’s rubbish.
“Medicine is mostly around taking a decent story from the patient. The essence of eConsult is to ask the questions ahead of the consultation. We gather information 24 hours a day, at the patient’s convenience.”
They picked 50 common conditions, designed the perfect set of questions for each, then pointed their patients to their website. Doctors could match the information to medical records and deal with many conditions remotely, but not only that: having advance information meant they could plan and prioritise, not least as regards in-person appointments. That was phase one. The basic principle? “You only bring into the building the people you need to bring into the building.”
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