Two-thirds of practices are now connected to the NHS app thanks to ‘strong support from practice managers’, NHS Digital has said.
All practices across England are expected to be fully connected to the app – which was released to app stores on 31 – December 2018, by 1 July, NHS Digital confirmed.
Director of citizen health technology at NHS Digital Ian Phoenix said: ‘Thanks to brilliant teamwork across the NHS and strong support from practice managers, two-thirds of general practices across England – more than 5,000 practices – have already been connected to the NHS App.’
He added that the remaining practices are ‘expected’ to be connected by the July deadline.
NHS Digital told Management in Practice that as of 13 May, the app had over 20,000 registered users who had used it to book more than 3,500 appointments and cancel over 1,000.
Over 6,700 repeat prescriptions had been ordered by the same date and there had been nearly 50,000 views of medical records as well as over 10,000 uses of the A-Z symptoms checker and 5,000 uses of NHS 111 Online.
‘Connection is just the beginning’
Following the app’s pilot project, which ran from September to December 2018, practice managers were found to need further guidance on implementing the app.
Mr Phoenix said: ‘Connection is just the beginning and it is crucially important that practices are asking themselves, “are we ready for the NHS App?” and taking steps, with support from their CCGs, to brief their staff, prepare their systems and tell their patients.’
Gemma Kirkwood, assistant practice manager at Hucknall Road Medical Centre, which launched the app in March, said early connection had brought benefits such as reducing the number of calls received by the reception team.
She said: ‘I think the most important thing to do before you begin promoting the app is to prepare your staff.
‘Frontline staff in particular will encounter many patient issues so they must have the knowledge and resources available to be able to signpost the patient to the correct place for help.’
Hucknall Road Medical Centre has set up text presets so reception staff can send messages directly to patients’ mobile phones, she added.
NHS Digital has published step-by-step guidance and put together a short film to help practices prepare for the app.