The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), NHS England and NHS Digital have revealed plans for a number of new features to be added to the NHS App.
Some new features are already in the early stages of being rolled out. Currently, patients under 20 NHS trusts, including in York, Scarborough and Cornwall, have the ability to view referrals and hospital appointments, book appointments and find supporting information ahead of their appointments, such as hospital maps.
Patients are empowered to book, change and cancel their appointments themselves thanks to the new feature. It is also helping to save valuable clinician and admin time within the NHS.
By March 2023 a further 24 NHS trusts are expected to also have this capacity within the NHS App.
DHSC has also announced that the app will roll out additional functionality over the course of the coming year, including the booking of flu vaccinations and the ability to access correspondence such as pre-consultation questionnaires.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Steve Barclay, said: “Technology is transforming the way we use the NHS and, with over 30 million sign-ups to the NHS App across the country, including seven million this year alone, there is huge potential to modernise services for patients and staff.”
He continued: “We have added innovative new features – from accessing GP records to booking COVID-19 jabs – that will help us ease pressures on GPs and other primary care services and provide more effective, personalised care.”
Last year saw new introductions to the NHS App including patients being able to access their GP records as well as book their Covid-19 jabs. One new feature already rolled out to nearly 2,000 GP practices enabled patients to receive notifications from their GP. In 2022, this service saw over 700,000 messages sent to patients, including appointment reminders and test results.
More than 28,000 bookings for Covid-19 jabs were made via the app in the first four weeks since the feature was added to the NHS App in November.
Simon Bolton, interim chief executive at NHS Digital, said: “The NHS App continues to change the way people in England access healthcare services. Since it was launched four years ago, millions of people have used it to book GP appointments, order repeat prescriptions and view GP records.
“We’ve also added new features to the app to help people manage hospital appointments, book Covid-19 vaccinations and receive messages from GPs. The NHS App is a great example of how technology can be used to help people take control of their healthcare, and access NHS services quickly and easily.”
The new features to the NHS App reflect the DHSC’s Plan for Digital Health and Social Care, which was published in June 2022.
Seven million new NHS App sign-ups were recorded in 2022, and the app hit the milestone of 30 million sign-ups back in September last year.