Did you know that your Online Doctor clinicians don’t just work in the world of digital medicine? Their work at Online Doctor directly reduces strain on our Health Service, by privately prescribing treatments that would otherwise have gone through the NHS. On top of this our clinicians spend at least 20% of their working week working for the NHS, providing vital frontline care in GP surgeries, pharmacies and hospitals.
There has never been a time that the NHS and LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor have needed our clinicians work more than during the COVID-19 pandemic. With this in mind we wanted to say a big thank you to our clinicians, and introduce you to some of the team.
Read on for an insight into how their working lives have changed in 2020…
Dr Gigi Taguri
Gigi is our Director of Medical Technology, she has worked with us for 9 years and is also an NHS GP in Enfield, London.
You specialise in clinical UX (user experience), how has that specialism helped you during the pandemic?
Clinical UX is about helping our patients get what they need to look after their health and our patients have never needed us more than during this pandemic.
The medical landscape changed overnight and so did the needs of our patients. Accessing face to face medical care was becoming increasingly difficult and our service became more and more important to our patients so we had to get it right. It came back to asking myself this question over and over: how can I help our patients get what they need to stay healthy and safe during the pandemic?
Do you apply your Online Doctor digital healthcare skills to your NHS work?
Yes, having worked in digital medicine for nearly 10 years now, I am confident in consulting with my patients through messaging, on the phone or video and so when NHS GPs moved to this model during the pandemic it was an easy transition for me.
It’s been fascinating to see how quickly my colleagues and our patients have adapted too and how much can be diagnosed and achieved without a face to face consultation. The consultation can still be caring, warm and empathetic, I’ve had some really tough video consultations with my patients going through so much difficulty during the pandemic but despite not being in the same room, I still felt able to connect and help.
What are you personally most thankful for in your role, especially during this time of international medical need?
The ability to help. I know so many have felt scared, anxious and helpless during this time. Being able to help feels like a real privilege.
Dr Anup Jethwa
Anup is one of our GPs and has been working with us for 4 years. He is also a GP at the Urgent Care Centre, Ealing Hospital.
How has the coronavirus outbreak affected your work at Online Doctor and/or in the NHS?
My role as a portfolio GP means I am lucky to be able to help patients online as well as through the urgent care centre.
My online work has changed dramatically. I have seen an increase in the number of patients accessing the Online Doctor. This has been quite heart warming for me as it demonstrates the power of Digital Medicine in helping patients when they find it difficult to physically access healthcare services.
My NHS practice has become synonymous with personal protective equipment! I must don the gear for every patient, no matter how minor the ailments are. Communicating through the layers of protection can be difficult at times as well as claustrophobic but a necessity to reduce transmission of the virus.
You specialise in acute care, could you describe how coronavirus has impacted acute care services in your NHS role?
A typical day in the urgent care centre pre COVID would be a busy one with me having to deal with a range of cases.
Since the lockdown was implemented, people have been adhering to the social distancing and isolation measures which has helped to reduce the transmission of the virus. A consequence though is some of the neediest patients have been too worried to ask for help by visiting my local urgent care which has seen a drop in patient attendances.
So, for me, the main message I want to get across to the readers is that it is important to seek help as we are still on the frontline and ready to help.
What bit of work completed by the team at Online Doctor in the last few weeks has particularly impressed you and why?
This is a great question! Over the last few weeks, I have been in awe of the team and how hard it has worked together to respond to the challenges of COVID-19. I cannot name just one change, but I am very proud of how we have adapted our contraceptive and sexual health services to help patients and reduce the pressures on primary care.
Dr Kieran Seyan
Kieran is our Medical Director and has been working at Online Doctor for 5 years. He also works as a locum GP in Hertfordshire.
As Medical Director at Online Doctor, what has been the biggest challenge during the pandemic?
We are very fortunate at Online Doctor to be well-supported by our pharmacy colleagues. Due to social distancing and changes to contraception guidelines, we are no longer able to take blood pressure, height and weight readings in stores, so to protect our patients and pharmacists. We had to rapidly adapt our service in line with the latest guidelines to ensure that patients can still get contraception during this difficult time. It was a real challenge but our team worked super-hard to get the changes done quickly as to have minimal impact on our patients.
In addition, sexual health clinics are unfortunately closing across the country and patients are finding it difficult to access services. We have had to rapidly ramp up our service to help more patients access quality, discreet and confidential care. Digital medicine has a big role to play in supporting our NHS and I do feel that we have been able to step up to the challenge.
How have you and your team stood up to these challenges?
We would not be able to function without the wonderful people that we have in our team! Our clinicians have given up their holidays and days off, worked extra hours and overnight to ensure that patients have been able to consult about their health. Our Patient Advisory team has also been working extra hours to deal with the unprecedented demand, making sure patients get served and somehow still with a smile on their faces. Various members of the team redeployed themselves to support the front-line team and our developers have been working tirelessly to change our digital service offerings in line with changes in clinical guidelines. Our eCommerce team has made extra effort to make sure that patients are well informed about rapid, everyday changes and all of these changes to workflow would have not been possible without our Product team. I really am very grateful to be surrounded by such a conscientious, proactive happy bunch of people.
At Online Doctor you work with specialists from all areas of the business, what specialisms interest you most outside of medicine?
I’m not sure it is really outside of medicine as there is so much crossover, but I really find clinical governance very interesting. It is imperative that we continue to provide safe, quality care for our patients and clinical governance hits all areas of the wider business – pharmacy, compliance, communications just to name but a few.
As you can see our clinicians work tirelessly to make sure they are providing both their NHS and LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor patients with the care that they need, at times like these when they most need it. It’s a big thank you from us to them!