Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt will say every patient in England should be able to use an app to access their medical records and book a GP appointment by the end of 2018.
Hunt will on Tuesday say in a speech at NHS Expo that by the end of 2018 all patients should have access to an “integrated app” to access NHS 111, view their health record, book a GP appointment and order repeat prescriptions.
The promised app, expected to be the latest incarnation of the NHS England development NHS.uk national patient portal, should also enable patients to “express their organ donation preferences”, “express their data sharing preferences”; and access support for managing a long term condition.
In a Department of Health press release Hunt said: “People should be able to access their own medical records 24/7, show their full medical history to anyone they choose and book basic services like GP appointments or repeat prescriptions online.”
Pilot schemes are already underway including an online trial in South East London where patients can access NHS111, book GP appointment, order repeat prescriptions and receive online consultations with their GP using a mobile app.
The DH said online trials of support for long term conditions have also been highly successful, with apps such as MyCOPD supporting patients with managing their condition independently. “The ambition is that this level of digitally led treatment should be available universally.”
However, past efforts by the Department of Health to develop compelling official apps and digital patient services nationally have met with decidedly mixed success. They have often struggled to win over public and patients, while repeated attempts to establish a curated library of NHS approved ‘safe’ apps have been mired in red tape.
Much hinges on the launch of the redeveloped NHS.uk later this month, which and is intended to provide a national portal to digital patient services, including personal health records.
In recognition of the rapid growth of a range of independent commercial digital services, some of which have received critical recent CQC reviews, the Department of Health will launch a consultation about which further areas could be included in the CQC’s ratings system.
And showing an enduring commitment to the value of open data, the Health Secretary is also expected to launch the MyNHS open data challenge, a £100,000 fund, which will reward the most creative and innovative apps and digital tools making use of our open data to generate new insights that help to improve services.
Sarah Wilkinson, chief executive of NHS Digital said: “We welcome the Secretary of State’s clear vision for the provision of technology services which will empower citizens to access NHS services and manage their health. Good digital services will make care safer and more accessible and free-up more time for doctors and nurses to spend with patients.
“We are already working intently towards the delivery of these outcomes and have made substantial progress, in areas including enhancing 111 Online and NHS.UK and launching acute and mental health Global Digital Exemplars. She said NHS Digital was “ committed to achieving the targets outlined by the Secretary of State, by the end of 2018″.