Health secretary Matt Hancock has called for more use of apps within the NHS, saying they present “a real opportunity” to both patients and healthcare teams.

Speaking to BBC Newsbeat, Hancock suggested that more needed to be done to improve the adoption of digital in the healthcare sector, particularly regarding the use of apps.

“One of the things I’ve done in different parts of government is make sure that the government is more tech-savvy and digital,” said Hancock.

“There’s loads to do in that area in the NHS – both so that you as a patient can use technology so that the NHS is more convenient for you, but also to help clinicians so that doctors’ and nurses’ lives are easier.”

The long-awaited NHS app is due to be launched before the end of the year, promising GP appointment bookings, repeat prescriptions ordering and access to NHS 111.

Hancock, who replaced Jeremy Hunt earlier this month, is known as somewhat of a digital hobbyist, having developed his own smartphone app that keeps users up-to-date with his activities.

The health secretary has already thrown his weight behind new healthcare technologies, including Medic Bleep, a healthcare-compliant messaging app designed for clinical staff which is being rolled out at West Suffolk Hospital, following successful trials.

For the many, not the few

In a speech to staff, Hancock said: “Let this be clear: tech transformation is coming. I want to see more technology like this become available to all, not just a select few.
“The right use of technology can save time and money, it can improve patient safety too.”

While Hancock’s words were welcomed by many, others urged for a more cautious approach to embracing new technologies in the NHS.

Vikki Archer, head of public sector, UK and Ireland at security firm CyberArk, said: “Hancock certainly has the right intent in saying that our healthcare system can stand to benefit from a greater use of apps.

“However, what must be avoided, though, is simply throwing money at technology or introducing new tech for new tech’s sake, without consideration of wider issues around its successful deployment, like overall accountability and a joined-up approach to securing patient data and system resilience.”