The NHS is now offering a single app, enabling patients to connect with their GP practice over a phone, it has been announced.
All practices in England are due to be fully connected to the app by the end of June, according to plans. It has the ability to allow patients to access standard on-line facilities such as booking appointments and viewing medical records. They can also express preferences for the use of data for research and planning.
The app has been available since the beginning of the year and has been tested on 3,000 patients at 30 practices. However, most practices are not due to link to the app until April.
NHS England deputy chief executive Matthew Swindells said: “The NHS wants to empower the public to take more control of their own healthcare, and the new app, which has already been tested by more than 3,000 people, will put the NHS into the pocket of everyone in England, providing safe and secure access to trusted health information, 111 online, repeat prescriptions and GP appointments.
“Through the Long Term Plan we see the app as the digital front door into the NHS, for those who want to use it, and once rolled out we will continue to develop and enhance its offer to patients, making it the must have health app for everyone in England.”
GP leaders said the app was “significant and constructive.”
Royal College of GPs chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: “Many GP practices already offer patients a range of digital services, such as self-check-in desks and text message reminders for appointments, and electronic symptom checkers and email contact with their surgery. This app will certainly complement those initiatives, but we need to make sure that patients who do not have access to a smartphone – or are just not as tech-savvy – can continue to make bookings and access healthcare in more traditional ways.
“For those that do use it, adequate safeguards must be in place to ensure the utmost protection of patients’ personal data, especially as people’s confidential medical records will now be accessible via their mobile phones if they choose this option and therefore, potentially more vulnerable to security breaches.”