According to the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, new digital services for patients will enable them to register with a GP, access healthcare records and get medical advice via their tablet or smartphone all in one place. The services, which should be available from the end of next year, are intended to make the NHS easier to use for the increasing numbers of people using smartphones and other mobile devices to access public services.
Speaking at the Health and Care Innovation Expo in Manchester, the Health Secretary outlined the measures for patients, including:
- The expansion of the existing NHS 111 non-emergency phone line service to include a new online ‘triage’ service for less serious health problems – this will enable patients to enter their symptoms online and get tailored advice or a call-back from a healthcare professional according to their needs. The service is being developed with leading clinicians and then piloted to ensure the best patient outcomes.
- NHS-approved health apps to guide patient choice – NHS England will launch a library of NHS assessed apps, as well as advising on other wearable devices, to ensure people can select reputable and effective products to monitor and improve their health.
- A relaunch of the NHS Choices website to improve the range of services – it will be relaunched as NHS.UK with a fuller range of online patient services, including the ability to register with a GP, see and book appointments, and order and track prescriptions.
- Instant access to personal health records online – inspired by the ‘blue button’ app in the US, the new NHS.UK site will also enable patients to securely download their personal health records, giving them instant access to important healthcare information, such as prescriptions and test results.
- More interactive, local information about the performance of health services –meaning that the MyNHS website should give better data on how NHS services are performing across dementia, diabetes and learning disability services. Maternity, cancer and mental health data will follow later this year. In future, the revamped site will also include maps, graphs and tools so that patients can see how the performance of their local services has changed over time.