GP practices across County Durham are leading the way in a digital-evolution by offering access to online consultations and health care advice.
Patients are being encouraged to seek medical help online by visiting their GP practice website for a digital consultation.
The new eConsult service, which is available in all practices across County Durham, allows patients to submit their symptoms by completing an online form and receive a response via telephone or e-mail with advice or an appointment.
Chief Officer at NHS Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield Clinical Commissioning Group Dr Stewart Findlay said: “In recent years we have seen a rapid development in the number of online consultation systems helping patients to access healthcare at their GP practice in a whole new way.
“Online consultations offer a quick and convenient way to access health advice without patients having to take time away from work and may prevent the need for an appointment.
‘We know that eConsult won’t suit everyone and we are not replacing our regular telephone appointment systems, our aim is simply to offer increased choice and accessibility to as many people as possible.”
Patients can also register with their GP practice for an online account allowing them to book face-to-face appointments, order medication, access their patient record, view test results and request medication – on their phone, tablet, laptop or computer, via the practice website or the NHS APP, at any time including outside of normal GP surgery hours.
NHS North Durham and NHS Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield Clinical Commissioning Groups’ digital lead, Nicola Murray, added: “New technology allows us to offer more choice than ever before when it comes to accessing health care services at your local GP practice.
“Many patients feel more comfortable talking about their problems online rather than face to face and with 70 percent of requests dealt with without the need for an appointment, online consultations also help free up GPs and other health professionals to spend time managing patients with more complex needs.”