Healthcare communication platform Accurx has successfully integrated its online consultation tool, Patient Triage, with the NHS App.
Co-founder and CEO of the fast-growing software company, Jacob Haddad, speaks exclusively to Digital Health News about the integration, the benefits for patients and clinicians, the biggest challenges and plans to extend the use of integration across the NHS.
Around 12 million patients at 1,200 GP practices in England can now access GP services with Accurx through the NHS App, where they can submit medical or administer queries to their practice with ease.
A huge success so far
Since Accurx began onboarding GP practices in May 2022 as part of a phased rollout, 165,000 patient requests have already been submitted through the NHS App via a short and simple form, which has seen significant benefits for both patients and practices.
Haddad said: “Our Patient Triage solution has been live since 2020 as a way for patients to initiate contact with their GP practices.
“The integration with the NHS App lets us do two things: one, it reinforces the NHS App as a front door to access the NHS, meaning anyone at those practices can log into it and directly get in touch with their practice.
“The second part is we use the patient’s identity from the NHS App, so it means rather than going through the practice website and a patient filling in a form with their information, because the patient has verified their identity in the app we know if you submit a request, it is definitely the person it should be.”
“So it’s much more streamlined on the practice end because they can save it to your record in one click and can contact you back in one click. It is much more joined up because you’ve already identified yourself,” he added.
The benefits of Accurx’s Patient Triage have been seen by patients and staff at St Andrew’s Health Centre in East London.
Dr Osman Bhatti, a GP at the practice, said: “We’ve been using Accurx’s Patient Triage feature for a long time now, and we love it. For our patients, the form is quick and easy to fill in. It asks 3-4 simple questions, gathering information about their care needs, concerns and expectations.
“At our practice, we can easily deal with incoming requests and assign them to the right colleague. Having the ability to work as one team, around a patient, is crucial for delivering effective care.
“With the NHS App integration, we’ll now have a significant proportion of our requests coming through in this format, meaning we can give our patients a consistent message and prioritise queries for patients all in one place.”
Obstacles along the way
There have been some inevitable challenges along the way in integrating a feature into something as universal as the NHS App and ensuring practices implement it correctly.
“One challenge is it just takes time to get everything integrated properly in an accessible and secure way,” Haddad explained.
“Another has been getting practices to implement this in the right way. There are different ways to enable patient triage and in the best practices that have done it, all of their patients getting in contact come into the same place, whether that’s through the app, the website or they have called up.
“So the actual implementation part in practices is definitely the hardest and where you have the most variation in terms of how it’s done well,” the CEO of Accurx added.
Ambitions to expand
With 1,200 GP practices using Patient Triage through the NHS App, Accurx have bold ambitions to further expand the rollout and adoption of the feature, with the ultimate goal being every single GP practice using it.
Haddad said: “We would love to get to that point. It’s partly dependant on where our Patient Triage product is procured and when we are able to get that wider adoption across the system, but we are the fastest growing online consultation product in general practice.”
“Our integration with the NHS App goes beyond just Patient Triage. We’re also working with them on things like delivering batch messages into the NHS App and that’s much more of a pilot, but we’re looking at how the Accurx product suite as a whole and the NHS App integrate really well and give a joined-up patient experience,” he added.
Accurx have already demonstrated their commitment to improving the experience of patients and clinicians this year when Digital Health News exclusively revealed that the company had launched the first national patient-centred record sharing system.
The system is the first to have patient permission built into its core, enabling patients to be in control of their information and choose who it is shared with, in turn saving huge amounts of clinical time.