Further insight into how protection policyholders are utilising virtual GP services has emerged, after life office AIG Life said that almost half of its customers have accessed a remote consultation more than once in the past year.
The protection provider said that more than 4,200 users of Smart Health by AIG, its digital health and wellbeing service, have requested a digital GP appointment since its launch in August 2019.
Of those, around half (48%) sought more than one consultation over the year and one in 10 have used the service at least four times.
A spokesman for AIG Life said the figures suggest that people are keen to change how they manage their own health to fit their needs and lifestyle.
Remote or virtual GP services have exploded in popularity in recent years – even more so in recent months as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to make access to traditional face-to-face GP consultations problematic.
NHS GP practices themselves have been rolling out remote consultation services, while insurers in both the individual and corporate markets have been offering them as an increasingly central part of their propositions.
AIG’s Smart Health gives customers, employees and their immediate families, including children up to the age of 21, 24/7 unlimited access to a team of health and wellbeing experts, wherever they are in the world.
The digital support service is available to all new and existing AIG Life customers, and to insured employees under its group protection policies, as part of their protection insurance with AIG Life.
The provider’s figures show that a third of its members ask for out-of-hours appointments: one in six seek a weekend GP appointment, while three in 10 want help between 6pm and 8am.
Six out of 10 (61%) people using the online wellbeing service had access to Smart Health through protection insurance provided by their employer. Almost three-quarters of AIG Life members received a GP call within the hour of requesting it.
Of those who used the service, 60% were able to stay at home and did not need any further help, 22% scheduled a face-to-face GP appointment, 11% scheduled a meeting with a specialist and 7% went to A&E.
Access to a phone or video GP was the most popular of the six integrated health and wellbeing services offered by AIG Life through Smart Health.
Sue Helmont, Marketing Director at AIG Life, said: “Smart Health is the next generation of value-added services. It responds to the changing needs and expectations of consumers by providing real-time, integral benefits every day – not just when they need to claim on their protection insurance. The usage we have seen is testament to the quality of the service and proves an accelerated trend toward people embracing telehealth and virtual care solutions.”
While coughs, cold and flu were the main symptoms discussed as the UK entered lockdown in March, the top reasons for a doctor’s appointment are “wide-ranging” AIG Life said.
Customers have sought help with serious health concerns such as chest pains, depression and anxiety, as well as for women’s health issues, back pain and dermatological concerns including rashes, bites, stings and skin infections.