A major target for the private sector is now primary care. Previously we have seen the expansion of private GP-led companies running GP surgeries under contract to the NHS. For example companies, like Virgin Care and The Practice. The latest batch of private companies, however, are focused on the use of digital technology to tap into the need for fast access to primary care.
Since 2016 several new private GP services have been active – mainly using smartphone apps or online consultations – have appeared. What they all have in common is that they offer rapid, convenient appointments for people who do not want the hassle of booking an appointment at their GP practice.
The private providers claim they are helping drive down waiting times – and that there wouldn’t be any demand for them if it weren’t for the lengthening waits for appointments in NHS general practice.
Several of these companies are using crowdfunding to raise money rather than seeking finance from banks and more traditional investment funds.
The largest of these companies is Babylon, which came into the public eye in late 2017 when it launched its GP at Hand app in London under an NHS contract.
The following is a list of these new-style private GP companies with a short summary.
|Babylon Health||Founded in 2013 by Ali Parsa (founder of Circle) the company is focused on the use of artificial intelligence to diagnose patients. In the UK the company has launched a private service via an app for GP appointments and has a contract with the NHS for the GP at Hand app launched in November 2017 in London. The company is privately financed and ultimately owned by Babylon Holdings based in Jersey. The company is working in several countries worldwide.|
|Push Doctor||Founded in 2013. The company has developed an app that links a customer to a GP. The company has employed 7,000 GPs (who also work for the NHS). A 10 minute appointment costs £20 and there are other charges for prescriptions, etc.|
|Doctaly||Founded in 2014. The company describes itself as an "online GP marketplace" that enables patients to book a convenient face-to-face consultation with an NHS GP on a private, fee-paying basis. The company is privately financed.|
|Zoom Doc||Founded in 2015. ZoomDoc is a private on-demand GP app which provides patients access to GPs 24/7 through paid-for face-to-face home visits, telephone and online Skype-style consultations. The company has been financed via crowdfunding.|
|Now GP||Founded in 2015 and part of Now Healthcare Group. NowGP is a virtual GP service via smartphone app that can provide users with consultations and guaranteed next-day delivery of medicines to their home or office.|
|MedicSpot Virtual||Founded in 2016 and launched in 2017. MedicSpot provides patients with an online GP service through kiosks in pharmacies that virtually connect to a real doctor.|
|Video Doc||Founded in 2014. VideoDoc offers patients video consultations with access to diagnosis, treatment and prescriptions from online GPs.|
|GPDQ||Founded in 2015. GPDQ is an online service thorugh which a home visit can be arranged at a cost. The service began in London and has since expanded to Birmingham.|