Private doctors are looking forward to a more efficient and technologically advanced future after switching to remote working amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
With mandatory social distancing, self-isolation and travel restrictions, private clinicians have embraced telemedicine as never before to keep their patients safe and supported.
And with a faster service, less paperwork and more convenience, doctors say digital prescribing in the private medical setting is the final piece of the puzzle when it comes to providing a five- star service to patients.
Dr Charlotte Norton, medical director of The Slimming Clinic
Dr Charlotte Norton, medical director of The Slimming Clinic, the UK’s largest provider of private doctor-led weight loss programmes, said: ‘Many of our patients are prescribed medication which needs to be kept cold. Previously, we would have prescribed and dispensed the medication at the same time, so the patient could take it home with them. During lockdown, we can no longer do this.
Touch of a button
‘Being able to send the medication to our patient’s home at the touch of a button is far more convenient for us and for them and is definitely something we will continue to do into the future. Remote working has become the norm as a result of the pandemic and will continue to be.’
She added: ‘It’s of significant benefit to both patients and our doctors.
‘It gives the patient more control; they can see when their delivery is coming and manage it themselves and doctors can be confident patients’ needs are being met while operating remotely.’
Dr Norton added that technological advances such as remote prescribing has allowed The Slimming Clinic to grow its business and reduce overheads. The entire team works remotely and the company has closed 24 shop-front clinics.
She said: ‘Electronic prescribing is a huge asset to independent practitioners because it gives you the ability to write a prescription anywhere and at any time, whether that’s in a consultation room or home.
‘Turning to electronic prescribing allowed us to provide a national service almost overnight. It has facilitated a geographical reach with no limits as to where you can send the medication, which is especially important in expanding your business.
‘You can support a customer on the other side of the country over the phone or webcam and have the medication sent to their
MidexPRO, which provides practice management software to private clinicians, say its partnership with digital prescription service CloudRx has benefited thousands of patients across the UK.
Caroline Corrigan of MidexPRO
Caroline Corrigan, operations director, said: ‘We’ve always been keen on remote prescribing and had already begun conversations with our customers when Covid-19 hit, so it was just a case of pushing it through as quickly as possible.
‘With the ongoing restrictions, it has come into its own, providing much more convenience and keeping patients safe in their homes.
‘There’s certainly no room for going back now. We recognise the huge benefits for patients and consultants. It means we can offer a five-star service to our valued clients, who can, in turn, offer a five-star service to their patients.
‘There is no queuing at chemists or waiting for a consultant to write out a paper prescription; you can literally get it delivered to your door. At one click of a button, you can have your medication less than 24 hours later all over the UK – which is really the key.’
She added: ‘People expect to be able to order things at the touch of a button through online shopping. Next-day delivery is the norm. Electronic prescriptions are really no different to that.’
Although it is well established in the NHS, private clinicians do not have access to the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS), used by 96% of NHS GPs and more than 99% of NHS pharmacists – which saw a surge in use during the pandemic.
Daniel Lee is director and superintendent pharmacist at CloudRx, which enables private clinicians to digitally sign prescriptions and send medication directly to the patient within 24 hours.
He said: ‘There is a clear technology gap between the electronic prescribing capabilities of the NHS and the digital infrastructure available to independent private clinicians. We developed CloudRx specifically for private GPs and consultants to help reduce their reliance on paper prescriptions and provide a convenient digital option for patients.
‘We accelerated the roll-out of CloudRx in response to Covid-19 – helping patients attending virtual consultations and those needing repeat prescriptions to access their medication safely and
‘It is clear digital prescribing has been extremely valuable to doctors and patients throughout the pandemic, and will prove to be an essential service in the future.’