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One tenth of patients must use online services by 2017

8 December 2015

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Online services should be used by 10% of all registered patients by 2017, a digital health leader has told government.

This includes online appointment booking, repeat prescriptions and access to records.

Martha Lane Fox, government’s former UK digital champion, made the challenge after being commissioned by Jeremy Hunt, secretary of state for health.

She also recommended free Wi-Fi in every building, in order to “reduce the administrative burden on doctors, nurses and care staff”, and allow GPs to refer patients to online health tools and apps, in order to encourage more people to use online health tools.

This means that extra training will be required for all NHS staff. Fox recommended this is done through “support and mentorship programmes rolled out locally, regionally and nationally.”

The new investment of £1 billion in health technology, which was announced in the autumn statement, will be used to pay for the tools and training.

The idea is to focus on reaching the “furthest first” – introducing the tools first to people with the most health and social care needs who are the least likely to be online.

Speaking to health leaders at the National Information Board summit, Fox said: “In the network age, universality, equity and quality must be at the very centre of how we build, adopt and scale new technologies in health. No-one must be left behind.”