EMIS has re-launched its patient information website with a new look and plans for a a series of apps; including one that will let patients book an appointment from their smartphone.

Patient.co.uk receives 5m unique visits a month. The number of people viewing it on a mobile device rose from 8.6% to around 21% between January and December last year.

The re-launched site has a sleeker, more modern look and simpler navigation. A free patient.co.uk app also went online two days ago and has had 1,000 downloads already.

The chief executive of EMIS Group, Sean Riddell, said the re-launch was part of a wider strategy to increase patients’ involvement in their own care and more apps will be launched over the next few months.

Riddell said some will be simple patient health education apps, while others would be integrated into the care management system – such as a prescription app for ordering repeat medication.

Last year, 1 billion prescriptions were given to patients and only 2.1m prescriptions were requested online.

“This [online requests] has to start becoming the main mode of transaction for such administrative functions,” Riddell added.

An appointment app will allow people to book to see a GP on their smartphone and automatically add the appointment to their calendar.

“We want to make the patient journey as easy and secure as online banking,” explained Riddell.

He added that eventaully the website might be able to prompt people to see a GP or order a repeat prescription when they looked at certain pages.

The website holds 904 patient information leaflets, 755 drug information leaflets and 2,093 professional reference articles.

To accompany the relaunch, EMIS released a survey of patient.co.uk users that indicates that stress and depression have risen since the economic downtown started in 2009.

More than 80% of the 249 family doctors and health professionals surveyed by the website said they had seen a significant increase in patients with stress-related symptoms, while 73% had seen a significant increase in patients with depression.

In the past two years, searches for depression have also increased, with 2,800 people a week downloading the patient information leaflet on the subject from patient.co.uk.

Requests for tips for dealing with stressed have also risen significantly. Despite this, the most popular search on the website is for gout, followed by cholesterol, shingles, menopause, diabetes and depression.

About 20% of patient.co.uk visitors are health professionals using an NHS internet connection.