Emis Health has teamed up with the makers of WebGP to offer the online self-triage and patient information service to all practices in England under the new name, eConsult.

Digital Health News reported in May that a pilot study of WebGP at 20 practices had cut thousands of unnecessary GP appointments, as well as prevented people attending urgent care centres.

The system, now rebranded as eConsult, was started by doctors at the Hurley GP group. It brings together a range of self-help tools including symptom checkers, video content created by some of the group’s GPs and advice on the various places a patient can get help, such as a pharmacist or NHS 111 or an available app.

A registered patient can also fill out an e-consultation form, which is sent to their practice for review by a GP, and will receive a response within one working day.

The system is already available to more than one million patients and EMIS is making it available to GP practices using any clinical software system.

The company said it has not bought WebGP, but has entered into a “joint product development relationship with Hurley Innovations”, which means it will take responsibility for marketing, distribution, implementation and customer support, enabling the Hurley Group to focus on continual development of eConsult by clinicians.

Matt Murphy, Emis’ managing director of primary care, said: “The pilot study proves that eConsult can bring huge benefits for both patients and GP practices, speeding up access to health advice and ensuring that people who need to see a GP are able to get an appointment more quickly.

“Our next step is to integrate eConsult into the EMIS Web clinical system to make the clinical user experience even more seamless”.

Dr Arvind Madan, Hurley Group GP Partner, believes that primary care needs to change in order to continue to provide for the needs of today’s population.

“EConsult provides better access for patients at a time convenient to them, better health outcomes as patients are presenting earlier, improved practice efficiency by encouraging patients to self-triage and savings for commissioners with reduced use of urgent care.”

Madan told Digital Health in May that at Hurley Group, doctors were initially blocked off for one face-to-face patient appointment if they dealt with three e-consults and this has now gone down to two, relieving pressure on busy GPs as e-consults generally take three minutes to complete.

Within his group they have found that in 40% of cases the GP feels confident enough to issue a prescription without any further information, in 20% of cases they need to call the patient for some more details before making their decision and in 40% the GP recommends that the patient comes in for an appointment.