Tele-medicine Revolution: Easing the burden off the NHS

Priyanka Mehta Wednesday 25th March 2020 04:33 EDT
Dr. Sukhbinder Noorpuri, CEO and Founder, i-GP

A virus has brought the world to its knees; borders are sealed, transport has been stripped off and most of you are quarantined but continue to battle physical, mental, or emotional distress. Instead of queuing up to the hospitals, clinics or your local GP when the NHS is already over-worked and short-staffed you might consider an alternative; consulting with a health professional for your symptoms over a video-conference without the fear of physically contracting the virus. This process is called tele-triage and is one of the several ways telehealth is revolutionizing patient treatment during the coronavirus pandemic. And platforms like i-GP are at the centre of driving this industry forward in the UK.

“Telemedicine offers a clear and safe route for patients to access healthcare at a time when resources are being re-deployed towards handling the Coronavirus pandemic. It allows remote consultation and treatment without the usual face-to-face environment and risk of viral contamination,” explains Dr. Sukhbinder Noorpuri, Founder and CEO of i-GP.

24*7 virtual online clinic, consultation and treatment

i-GP offers instant access to a 24*7 digital consultation with the online clinic offering a dynamic user-friendly design where treatment plans are usually issued within an hour of consultation. All the questions are architected with images and suitable multi-media. It does not operate like a chatbot or symptom checker where one is required to input copious amounts of text, describing your condition. Instead, you simply have to select the appropriate options relevant to your condition. This platform helps you in diagnosing and treating common medical problems such as urine or sinus infections, common cold, flu among others. Medical professionals estimate that such diseases constitute about 70 million cases a year across the NHS or about 20 percent of the doctors’ daily workload. However, please note that it does not that the platform does not treat emergency cases.

“Video consultations allow the patient the reassurance of seeing the doctor and cover mental health issues as well as regular medical reviews. Clinicians can pick up on patient cues as they would in the normal clinical setting, arrange tests and monitor chronic conditions.

“At i-GP, we use cutting-edge technology to assess a patient to make sure it is safe to be treated online. We can issue prescriptions to local pharmacies in a matter of minutes and our system allows a relatively small clinical team to diagnose and treat a large number of patients without having to remove staff from the frontline. These patients, therefore, don’t have to attend A&E or urgent care centers, allowing hospital teams more time and energy in treating those who are Covid-19 positive,” Dr. Noorpuri explains.

No requirement of PPE and preventing doctors from being infected

Patients interact directly with the system called ‘Si’ which stands for Swarm Intelligence. Si triages patients for free but also helps guide the doctor in diagnosis and prescribing. This means the service is scalable and a small clinical team can treat 1 million patients per year. Remote care also preserves Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that is already in critically short supply at many hospitals around the country and especially at a time when NHS doctors report of being infected themselves without the proper gear.

This is essentially what the telehealth revolution looks like. From symptom-checking text bots to more traditional video chat consultations, telemedicine.

Currently a team of about 15 medical experts, i-GP has treated tens of thousands of patients to date. being part of the NHS digital health accelerator program. They are hoping to save the NHS over £1 billion per year by treating patients at a cost saving of 65% and have in the past been selected to join the Mayor of London’s Business Accelerator Programme.

Over the last three months though, Dr. Noorpuri estimates that they have witnessed a 400 percent increase in patient flow in comparison to the same quarter last year 2019-2020. He said,

“The last two weeks have been a very difficult time for everyone as the world starts to really acknowledge the impact of the virus. The growth curve of viral spread pivoted upwards once infection rates hit about 100,000 worldwide and infected numbers have tripled within the last three weeks. Patients are extremely anxious and simply petrified to go out and we are doing what we can to ease the burden off the NHS.

“Frontline care is and should be the absolute focus of the NHS currently especially considering the viral spread across the UK is following a very similar pattern to that of the initial stages within Italy and the hospitals are bracing themselves for an influx of patients with severe respiratory problems.”

He believes that the UK has about 4,000 intensive care beds and this number may need to rise to as high as 150,000 with the associated number of staff required to tend to the sick. Correct PPE gear is essential for those in this frontline and there is a major effort to put them in place in anticipation of what is to come in the next few weeks.

Remote consulting has very few additional requirements. Although, the setup process is complex in order to fulfil regulation i-GP has resolved all potential issues and Dr. Noorpuri believes it is mostly a matter of promoting awareness to patients so they can utilize these services and keep themselves and the medical teams safe.

Dr. Noorpuri established i-GP along with his wife and Co-Founder Dr Aleesha Dhillon in 2016. Ever since the platform has grown steadily with their physical offices being located in London and Kent. However, their team of health professionals has treated patients across all demographics online right up to the age of 84 years across the country.

“Our aim is to change the way patients access healthcare and we are developing several new aspects of online service such as digital dermatology and mental health solutions. We have the vision to offer a worldwide digital care service that is fast, safe and convenient.”

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