EMIS Health has cited a “huge increase” in patients using online GP services after registrations for Patient Access rose by a third in just over 12 months.

According to EMIS, the Patient Access service has seen sign-ups increase from six million to eight million since the app was re-launched just over a year ago.

In the first six months of 2019, 3.4m appointments were booked and 9.7m repeat prescriptions issued via Patient Access, the supplier claimed.

This represents a 66% increase in appointment bookings and 64% increase in repeat prescriptions issued compared to the same period in 2018.

EMIS said the increase reflected the growing trend of patients using online GP services to book appointments and repeat medications at their local surgeries.

This could help hard-pressed GPs across the country, with Hall Green Health in Birmingham said to have saved 8.5 working days of admin duties a month thanks to Patient Access.

The practice serves 26,000 patients and was an early adopter of the re-launched Patient Access platform.

Currently, around 35% of patients are signed up for online services, with 28% having access to records.

In July, patients of Hall Green Health made nearly 2,000 prescription requests online. Each online request saved two minutes of reception time, meaning staff saved 65 hours of reception time – the equivalent of 8.5 working days – over the course of a month.

Available to patients via a website or apps for iOS and Android, Patient Access recently launched a new service enabling people to book an appointment directly with their local pharmacy to help relieve pressure on busy GP practices.

Patient Access was developed and launched by EMIS Health in 2004. The service is now run by Patient Platform, part of EMIS Group.

Today, the platform handles around 1.8m appointment and prescription requests a month, according to EMIS.

Jason Keane, CEO at Patient Platform, said: “We are delighted to have seen such a positive response from users since re-launching Patient Access.

“We listened to feedback from both patients and GPs to create a more user-friendly experience that is empowering patients to take control of their healthcare and take pressure off practices.”

A recent survey by Pulse found that the average wait time for a routine GP appointment is now more than two weeks.

In response, the Digital Healthcare Council called for “fundamental changes” to current NHS policies that encouraged use of digital solutions.

Recent research from Benenden Health proposed that an increase in GP wait times is turning more people to Google to self-diagnose their health concerns.

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