As NHS England begins to roll out the long-awaited NHS App, the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) says it “promises to be a significant and constructive step forward in using technology to support patients to manage their own care and wellbeing”.
The app, which is now available on Apple and Google Play stores, can be downloaded and used by patients aged 13 or over to access a range of healthcare services on a smartphone or tablet, and is expected to be fully rolled out to practices and patients by July 1, 2019.
The launch comes after a successful private testing with more than 3,000 patients across 30 GP practices in England.
“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," said Wendy Clark, executive director of product development at NHS Digital, commenting on the app's wider launch.
“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.”
Features of the new app include booking and managing appointments at your GP surgery, ordering repeat prescriptions and registering as an organ donor. You can also choose whether the NHS uses personal data for research and planning.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, has responded to the launch of the app, stating: “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.”
Individual patients’ access to services will depend on their local GP practice, who will need to connect to the app and review their own system settings before going live with all the functions offered by the app.