NHS trusts in Devon and Cornwall are trialling an app which shows patients how busy local health services are prior to making any bookings.
NHSquicker gives up-to-date waiting times for hospital A&E departments and minor injuries units, as well as how long it would take them to get to different treatment centres, based on the user’s location.
Patients can also use the free app to find information about less urgent departments such as GPs, pharmacies, sexual health services, dentists and opticians.
Dr Nick Mathieu, consultant in emergency medicine and clinical director of the emergency department at Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, said he hoped NHSquicker “increase awareness” about the variety of care available to patients and help to ease the pressures facing A&E departments.
“This app will give people the information they need so they can make informed decisions about where to go for treatment,” Mathieu said.
“We hope this will improve things for patients, as they may be able to receive the care they need more quickly and perhaps closer to home than they realise.”
The app draws information from a number of trusts including Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust (NDHT), Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust and South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust.
So far NHSquicker app has been downloaded more than 1,000 times and a spokeswoman for NDHT told Digital Health News that ideally the trust is hoping as many people from the 1.6 million population of Devon and Cornwall will download it.
The app has been launched by the Health and Care IMPACT Network, a collaboration between the NHS across Devon and Cornwall and academics from the University of Exeter.
The aim of the network is to improve delivery of health and care in front-line services through research, support and sharing knowledge.
Dr Nav Mustafee, from the University of Exeter Business School and one of the co-founders of the IMPACT network, said NHSquicker was aimed at everyone and hinted that the app could be developed and improved in the future.
“Real-time waiting times are the first step in helping to bring up-to-date, appropriate information to people and the project team will continue to explore ways the app can be developed,” he said.
NHSquicker is available for smartphones and tablets, on Apple and Android.
Digital innovations within the NHS are on the rise.