As the NHS celebrates its 70th birthday, the UK government has unveiled a new mobile app for the free-to-use health service, enabling patients in England to get directly in touch with their GPs.
The app, developed by NHS Digital and NHS England, gives patients the chance to book appointments, order repeat prescriptions, see the medical files held by the surgery they visit, and access the ‘111’ service online – without the need to speak to anybody over the phone or actually visit the surgery.
Furthermore, patients will be able to set preferences relating to the sharing of their data, sign-up as organ donors, and make a decision on how they would like their end-of-life care to be managed, should it ever come to that.
“I want this innovation to mark the death-knell of the 8am scramble for GP appointments that infuriates so many patients,” said health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt. “Technology has transformed everyday life when it comes to banking travel and shopping. Health matters much more to all of us, and the prize of that same digital revolution in healthcare isn’t just convenience but lives improved, extended and saved.
“As the NHS turns 70 and we draw up a long-term plan for the NHS on the back of our £394m a week funding boost, it’s time to catch up and unleash the power of technology to transform everyday lives for patients.”
The NHS app will begin testing in September before being made available to download for anyone in England via both the App Store and Play Store. Once downloaded, users just have to sign up for an NHS account, inputting the necessary details to take them on their healthcare journey. There isn’t any word on whether Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland will follow suit in use of a similar app in the near future.
“The new app will take the NHS to world-leading position by empowering all our patients using digital technology to take charge of their own healthcare and contact the NHS in a way that suits them,” said Matthew Swindells, NHS England national director or operations and information. “The new app will put the NHS into the pocket of everyone in England but it is just one step on the journey.”