In the not too distant future and in this very galaxy, you could be seeing your GP from the comfort of your own couch.

GPs consulting with patients via social media! No, it’s not just a new wild idea, it’s an actual prediction put forward by the Royal College of General Practitioners in the UK.

In a vision statement titled ‘The 2022 GP: A Vision for General Practice in the Future NHS’ the College stated that by 2022, patients can expect to be able to access GPs remotely, attend virtual clinics with GPs and specialists, and communicate with their physician through real-time messaging and social media platforms such as Skype.

Peeping in to the future, the vision statement predicts that the traditional face-to-face consultation will no longer be accepted as the only way to access care. In 2022 patients will expect to interact virtually with their GPs and to have access to their online medical records, and to receive electronic prescriptions and referrals.

A previous study by Elsevier found that 65 per cent of physicians were already using online physician communities for advice in their daily practice. Of the physicians interviewed by the study, 60 per cent said that information gained from these online communities influenced their healthcare decisions.

When digital agency, Princeton conducted the “Mobile Medics Survey” it was revealed that 80 per cent of physicians own a smartphone and 52 per cent of those had downloaded a healthcare related app in the previous week.

In this light, it seems inevitable that there will be a greater use of mobile technology and remote consulting in the future. However, in order for this to happen, GPs will need to be up-skilled in using a suite of digital communication tools including smartphones, iPads and various online forms of consultation. This will include online group discussion forums, where patients can get peer-to-peer support.

Healthcare professionals, as well as marketers of healthcare devices and treatments should be paying close attention to the new developments in digital communication modes and tailor their offerings to suit the consumers of tomorrow.

If you are interested in learning more about VIVA! Communications’ digital offerings don’t hesitate to contact us.