How a secure photo sharing app is freeing up appointments and saving patients time at Rosedale Medical Practice
Rosedale Medical Practice in Port Talbot, like many GP surgeries across the UK, was experiencing huge demand for its services and long wait times were having a negative impact on patient satisfaction. Two years ago, Dr Paul Williams decided to introduce the Diagnosis On Camera app, which allows patients to send photos to the surgery securely from the comfort of their own home. The app has revolutionised the way the medical practice treats dermatological concerns, allowing them to help more patients without the need for them to see a GP in person.
The price for Doc App is £250 + VAT per site, per year
A solution that doesn’t compromise on security
Previously, when Rosedale Medical Practice patients needed to have a lesion, mole or other minor skin condition checked, they would have to visit the surgery and sit in a busy waiting room before they could be seen by a GP. Dr Williams has been with the practice for over five years and estimates that around 10 per cent of appointments at the surgery were for dermatological problems. He says: “A lot of patients were making appointments for moles or lesions, and if they travelled to the surgery and waited a long time just to be told that there’s nothing to worry about, they were very unhappy. I wanted to find another way.
“Some surgeries were using a digital camera, but that still requires patients to go in and then the photos need to be uploaded, which is a long-winded process. We needed an innovative way for patients to send photos that didn’t compromise on security.”
The Diagnosis On Camera (DOC) app allows patients to send phone camera photos directly to administration staff simply and securely. No personal or sensitive information is collected by the app, and images taken are only stored on the phone for the duration of the session.
When patients call Rosedale Medical Practice about a skin concern, they are given a unique code, comprised of three digits plus their date of birth, which they can use to submit up to five photos. The photos are then added to the patient’s medical record and reviewed by a GP at the surgery within a few days. Data is transmitted using SSL encryption and stored within Microsoft’s UK Azure Data Centres, which are certified to Level 2 of the NHS Information Governance Toolkit. Security controls on the app are aligned with General Data Protection Regulation.
Saving GPs valuable time
Dr Williams says using the DOC app has saved the surgery “a huge amount of time and resource” and has reduced “a significant amount of demand”.
“It has cut the stress of people having to come in and wait, and GPs can review the photos over lunch or at another convenient time. For the vast majority of photos, I can reassure the patient that there’s no reason to be concerned via a call or letter. If needed, we can refer the photo to a dermatologist, and they sometimes suggest seeing the patient for further consultation or recommend a course of medication.”
He says it has been particularly helpful when alleviating the need for house calls to nursing and residential homes, as these can take up to two hours.
A convenient tool for patients, too
Rosedale Medical Practice gradually implemented the DOC app, offering patients the chance to use it and give their feedback for around two months before it became standard practice. Surgery staff found that patients were happy to try it out and found it very convenient.
Dr Williams explains: “Even older patients feel comfortable taking photos on a mobile phone these days and using the DOC app saves them time. Sometimes patients are not in a rush, they just want something checked out for peace of mind, and it is perfect for those situations. We’ll definitely continue using it. We know it works and it saves everyone on our team so much time. Now, the waiting room is sometimes empty.”