Online consultation provider eConsult is now available through the NHS App.

Patients whose GP surgeries use the service can now use the NHS App to ask their GP for advice. They will be prompted to complete clinically validated questions through eConsult.

Where possible the online consultation will be passed to the patient’s regular GP or member of the team who will then respond.

The integration with the NHS App enables patients to quickly access online consultations as well as allowing their doctor to undertake initial triage.

After their online consultation is submitted, their GP will follow up with either an electronic message, phone call or video consultation, or a face-to-face appointment with the necessary treatments and results.

The system aims to save time waiting for a face-to-face appointment.

Dr Murray Ellender, eConsult chief executive, said: “As Covid-19 continues to keep us in lockdown, we want to make sure that everyone in England is receiving the best medical care possible.

“The eConsult integration with the NHS App is allowing people above the age of 13, whatever their level of capability to have easy access to important medical advice when they need it. This is vital for eConsult patients during Covid-19 as people are more reluctant to seek medical advice for other illnesses due to fear of catching the coronavirus.

“As people are using healthcare apps more frequently than ever before to seek medical advice, this integration among providers is a step in the right direction for efficiency between patients and doctors.”

Before the Covid-19 crisis, about 70-90% of patients in primary care were seen face-to-face, now this number is matched by the consultations resolved digitally, the provider said.

National figures show that 70-75% of patients do not require an in-person consultation following a digital triage. Some eConsult users have reported that over 90% of patients are now being treated remotely.

Ian Phoenix, NHS Digital director of citizen health technology, said: “The NHS App is one of a number of tools that allows patients to access NHS services digitally. People can order repeat prescriptions, manage appointments, check symptoms and view their GP medical record safely and securely.

“It’s great news that the first online consultation provider has been integrated into the NHS App, enabling more people to access even more health and care services using the app as the digital front door.”