Digital GP plugs out of hours health gap


Monday 7 September 2020


  • One in six seek a weekend GP appointment
  • Three in 10 want help between 6pm and 8am
  • Almost three-quarters receive a GP call within the hour


People are turning to digital GP services to manage their health as they want to speak to a GP almost immediately and outside the traditional 9 to 5 working week, data from AIG Life Limited has revealed.

Over 4,200 users of Smart Health by AIG, the UK life insurer’s award-winning digital health and wellbeing service, have requested a digital GP appointment since its launch in August 2019. More than one in six (17%) booked a phone or video appointment with a UK-registered GP at the weekend*, and 30% of GP calls took place outside working hours**.

The service’s speed of access to a GP and the ability to request a call any time of day, including weekends, meant 73% of patients received a call from a UK-registered GP within an hour.


Of those who used the GP:

  • 60% were able to stay at home and didn’t need any further help
  • 22% scheduled a face-to-face GP appointment
  • 11% scheduled a meeting with a specialist
  • 7% went to A&E


Embracing remote health

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. GP appointment usage doubled and has remained high since COVID-19 arrived in the UK.

There has been repeated use by customers as half of Smart Health users (48%) sought more than one consultation over the year and one in 10 have used the service at least four times – an indication that people are keen to change how they manage their own health to fit their needs and lifestyle.


Commenting on the findings, 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.'


Users of Smart Health praised speed of access to GPs and the attentive nature of specialists who listened to and addressed their concerns.

However, the reasons why patients sought help from a GP have changed over time. 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.

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 with rashes, bites, stings and skin infections.

Six out of 10 (61%) people using the online wellbeing service had access to Smart Health through protection insurance provided by their employer.


* 17% of health management requests between 27th August 2019 and 27th August 2020 were made on Saturday and Sunday.

** 30.2% of GP phone and video appointments between 27th August 2019 and 27th August 2020 were requested between 6pm and 8am.