MedicSpot provides patients with an online GP service via kiosks placed in pharmacies that virtually connect a patient to a doctor. Each kiosk contains medical equipment for examination and is available for walk-in consultations without appointments. It is a private service and charges patients £39 per consultation. The company is hoping to capitalise on the current problems in primary care, including long waits for appointments and difficulties getting appointments at a convenient time.
MedicSpot's kiosks provide general healthcare advice, immediate prescriptions, referral letters and sick notes.The prescriptions can then be collected by the patient themselves from their local pharmacy.
MedicSpot is not an emergency medical service and does not have access to medical records so cannot deal with chronic conditions if the doctor needs your records to treat you. However, the company states that if this is the case then the doctor will let you know and you will not be charged for the consultation.
The company also reports that around one fifth of the consultations have been booked by non-U.K. natives who may not want to deal with going to a real hospital.
MedicSpot Ltd was incorporated in March 2016, founded by Dr Zubair Ahmed who remains the CEO of the company.
Since launching in January 2017, MedicSpot is now located in 50 pharmacies nationwide and aims to open in 30 cities in the next year, with some plans to place kiosks in NHS hospitals. MedicSpot reports that it works to take pressure away from the NHS and increase the capacity of the NHS through a quick access to healthcare using the latest advancements.
The company says it aims to complement the NHS to ensure that patients get high quality care at a time and place of their choosing.
According to their account statement, as of 31 March 2020 the company had current assets of £720,406, with creditors due within one year of £682,319. Shareholders funds were £1.4 million, up from £396,780 in 2019.
Crunchbase shows that the company has a total funding amount of £1 million as of May 2018, from one seed investment* from a member of Henley Business Angels.
*Seed investment is a capital investment in exchange for an equity stake in the company.
Henley Business Angels run out of Henley Business School, University of Reading, and support registered early stage businesses launched by entrepreneurs who graduated from or are connected to the school.
The firm has a valuation of £4-6 million.
The £1m in funding raised by the company will allow MedicSpot to scale to 300 pharmacies in all major cities in the UK and increase patient numbers tenfold in the next 12 months.
Zubair Ahmed, CEO of MedicSpot, said: “I’m pleased to have received an investment from one of the HBA members. In tandem with other investments it will help us to expand rapidly across the UK and provide a service which patients have responded positively to.”
In April 2018, Sheppey Community Hospital in Kent became the first NHS hospital to provide the MedicSpot virtual GP service by hosting on-site equipment in their pharmacy. NHS England stated that the arrangement was allowed because while community pharmacies are contracted to provide NHS services, as private businesses they can also contract with private providers to supply non-NHS services.
MedicSpot is also accessible at high-street pharmacies across 15 UK towns. With their website claiming they are located in more than 50 pharmacies across the UK and more than 30 clinics providing private GP services in London alone.
In September 2019, MedicSpot was selected as one of twenty innovators to take part in 2020's DigitalHealth.London accelerator programme in an effort to speed up adoption and spread of innovation across the NHS. It includes a collaboration between the three Academic Health Science Networks in London – the Health Innovation Network, UCLPartners and Imperial College Health Partners – MedCity, CW+ and the Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, with support from the Mayor of London. It receives around £1.7m in funding from the European Regional Development Fund.
In July 2020, MedicSpot teamed up with Asda to offer in-store GP video-consultations with diagnostics. Medicspot will initially offer the service free of charge to Asda customers to help support those who are having difficulties getting a GP appointment amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Following the introduction of MedicSpot into an NHS hospital in Kent, GPs warned that providing private GP services on hospital premises served to 'undermine' NHS GP practices and 'drive a wedge' between providers.
Dr Jackie Applebee, a GP in Tower Hamlets, said: ‘It is bad enough that these services are available in pharmacies, but housing them in NHS hospitals undermines NHS general practice and drives a wedge between primary and secondary care when we should be working together for the good of our patients.'
She added: ‘This is no way to address the crisis in the NHS and these online private services are exploiting the crisis to make a profit. The way to address the crisis is to fund the NHS adequately, to the same levels as comparable countries.'
There is a general concern with these new digital services and their use of NHS GPs; although the doctors will be paid extra, their time and energy is being taken directly from the NHS with nothing given back. In addition, GPs already work inhumanely long hours and inviting them to work through their lunch-breaks or after hours will make this worse, meaning that all patients could receive sub-par treatment if doctors work longer days. This is just a quick digital fix for the rich that overlooks the bigger picture.