NHS App roll-out begins

The NHS App has started its public rollout following testing with more than 3,000 patients and 30 GP practices.

The app is now being rolled out across England, with individual GP practices needing to review some of their system settings before they can go live and all the functions of the NHS App will be available. These actions and the gradual rollout will ensure patients have the best possible user experience of the app.

When the GP practice is connected patients will be able to use the NHS App to book and manage appointments at their GP practice, order their repeat prescriptions, securely view their GP medical record and check their symptoms using NHS 111 online and the health A-Z on the NHS website.

Wendy Clark, executive director of product development at NHS Digital, said: “The NHS App will give everyone in England who chooses a convenient tool to access the NHS, similar to the way people interact with other services, such as banking or travel booking. It is an important step towards providing an NHS that is digitally accessible and means that patients know that whatever they access on this app is safe and trusted and will make a positive contribution to their health and wellbeing.”

“The potential of the app is huge and we will be listening to user and GP feedback as we add additional tools and services and more GPs come on board.”

Most practices will go live between April and June 2019, with the NHS App expected to be fully rolled out to practices and patients by 1 July 2019.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, has responded to the launch of the NHS App.  “Technology plays an increasingly important role in the NHS, and in our patients’ lives.”

“The new NHS App promises to be a significant and constructive step forward in using technology to support patients to manage their own care and wellbeing. We hope it will make navigating primary care services easier for patients by making it possible for them to book appointments, order prescriptions, and check their medical records on their smartphone, if they wish to.”

“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.”

“It’s also essential that the app is thoroughly and independently evaluated to ensure it is safe and cost-effective, and ultimately, beneficial to both patients and GP practices without unnecessarily increasing our workload.”