The Care Quality Commission might have “significant concerns” about some companies providing online primary care, but it will not matter one jot to the millions of people who routinely turn to Google for health information and advice.
The CQC wants online companies and pharmacies to provide safe, high-quality and compassionate care and says they must adhere to exactly the same standards as conventional GP surgeries.
We fully support this aim and as the provider of a national digital care platform, we work with third party developers to help their care applications connect safely and securely with NHS clinicians and adhere to professional guidelines.
The challenge here is the weight of public demand. Access to online primary care is becoming increasingly difficult in some parts of the country, which is leading to intolerable pressures on accident and emergency departments.
It is good to see the debate over digital health technologies reaching the mainstream media; the issue of regulating online care was discussed in detail on 5 Live Breakfast the other day. (It can be found at 1hr and 7 mins if you want to listen.)
The public clearly wants access to better online services from the NHS. The NHS needs the population to have greater management of its health. The technology exists and is ready to go. But the lack of a clear strategy from the Government is holding everything back. Until there is one, people will to have to take their chances online.