All practices in England will offer the NHS App to patients by 1 July 2019, NHS England said today.
The App, which was trialled with over 3,000 patients across 30 GP practices in England, is now being rolled out in England and is already available for patients to download from Apple App or Google Play stores.
A web-based version of it will be launched in the following months, NHS England said.
Practices will have to make adjustments to their app system settings, to make sure that appointments are available for online booking and appropriately named, according to a factsheet on NHS Digital.
More guidance for practices on the NHS App is expected to be published this month.
In the meantime, patients can still download the app and use it to check their symptoms on NHS 111 online, before their GP practice goes live with the service.
NHS App features
Five pilot areas – Liverpool, Hastings, Bristol, Staffordshire and South Worcestershire – were chosen last yearto test the app, with their patients downloading it from 30 September.
NHS England and NHS Digital collected patients and practice staff’s feedback between September and December 2018 and used it to change the way GP appointments and GP medical record information is presented, and make improvements to the online registration process.
Once practices go live with the app, patients will be able to:
• Book and manage appointments
• Order their repeat prescriptions
• Access their GP medical record
• Register as an organ donor
• Consent to the use of their data for research purposes
‘One stop shop for all NHS services’
Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘The NHS App will give patients more control over their own healthcare and revolutionise the way we access services.
‘We will continue to add new features in the future to make the app the one stop shop for all NHS services, as part of our long term plan to build the most advanced health and care system in the world.’
Commenting on the rollout of the NHS App, RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said that although the app is a good step forward to help patients better manage their health, there is a need to make sure that those without access to a smartphone will still be able to ‘make bookings and access healthcare in more traditional ways’.
She added: ‘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.’
The app should also be independently evaluated to confirm it is cost-effective and doesn’t increase practice workload, Professor Lampard said.