Sure it will have its place in healthcare, but in my opinion it really won’t have very much of an impact in how things are already done. If you really are ill then you can always ask for a home visit from your GP, go to the out of hours services, go to pharmacy first or go to A&E.
I think fundamentally there are two problems with all these “Uber For Healthcare” apps and why they will never really take off.
It’s A Bad Business Idea
It’s essentially a really bad idea. Not because it won’t work, but because everyone has already thought of it and is doing it.
There are already dozens (if not hundreds) of these startups in the UK. Some CCGs are even trialling their own versions of it in and around Yorkshire!
Uber for Healthcare will happen. But there will likely be a dominant service for each area of England as the landscape of healthcare is very different to the taxi landscape.
It’s a very crowded market. Sure some of these companies might be successful, they might even be quite profitable. But none of these companies will likely have a big share of the pie. A share of the pie that will likely be eroded over time as more and more of these startups appear.
Doctors Are Unlikely To Work For “Uber For Healthcare”
Doctors are definitely undervalued in the UK. We are undervalued monetarily as market rates do not apply as much in a socialised health system. Most doctors are ok with this. Most doctors became doctors because they genuinely wanted to help others. And in any case we do get paid a pretty good salary as junior doctors and we get a really good salary as a senior doctor.
However, we are currently being extremely undervalued by the NHS as human beings. Not a day goes by where yet another newspaper article doesn’t appear about this.
The question is, would doctors prefer working for a piece of software rather than the NHS? Uber is not particularly well known for treating its drivers well. I’m sure there are plenty that would. But, doctors are much more skilled than your average taxi driver. If we were going to work in the private sector why would we choose to work for a piece of software that would try to take a large percentage of our salary, potentially treat us really poorly and treat us like a cog in a machine? There are already established firms out there that would happily recruit experienced doctors, pay them up to £100,000 for a 37 hour week, pay professional fees, give us our allocated time for essential training to keep up with revalidation and treat us with some respect. Why then would highly skilled professionals choose to depend on a mobile phone app for their livelihood? (Also, I don’t particularly find the idea of being beckoned by a random person with a smart phone, while carrying controlled medications with me appealing!)
But the main reason that most doctors would not sign up for this kind of technology is indemnity fees. GPs who do exclusive out of hours work and locum work, pay around £25,000 a year to avoid litigation. As society becomes more litigious these fees have been getting higher and higher over the last few years and is one of the many reasons why out of hours services are closing across the UK. These fees are already this high when we have the patients medical records, past medical history, drug allergies etc. right in front of us and also the support of all the other NHS allied healthcare professionals. The risk of just seeing a random patient with none of this support will make indemnity sky-rocket as well as massively increase the chances of being taken to court.