iPLATO has announced the launch of expanded NHS App integrations available to GP practices that could help to save the NHS £18 million a year.

The new features include keyword replies and triage within the NHS App, along with key improvements to its remote consultation toolbar. The new launch offers NHS commissioners more transparent cost controls and a better clinician user experience whilst making patient care more accessible.

Based on the latest NHS data, 53% of patients in England are now using the NHS App. iPLATO expects existing customers to save over £1.2m through the launch of keyword replies within the NHS App. If NHS England were to deploy iPLATO’s platform nationally, savings of up to £18m could be delivered, the company says.

Improved handling of patient demand

Incoming patient requests can now be managed through newly launched triage on the web, available for GPs to add directly to their practice websites as a digital front door.

Soon to be followed by the upcoming release of triage within the NHS App, iPLATO’s tool is already available to patients in the myGP app. Accessible on the web as well as within two of the most popular patient-facing apps in England, these integrations offer patients unparalleled digital-first access to GP services.

Together, these three routes allow patients to submit administrative, prescription or medical requests to their GP through a simple and easy-to-use triage process.

Since April 2023, customers using iPLATO’s patient messaging platform also receive free use of the NHS App messaging and notification service, giving patients a secure alternative to SMS messaging.

Ann Neville, practice business manager in Lancashire expects iPLATO’s omnichannel triage to continue to grow rapidly in usage amongst patients commenting “it’s very easy for patients to follow and will improve patient access to the practice”.

iPLATO’s founder Tobias Alpsten has stressed the importance of having a simple system and why it works so well. “A system that works for everyone is a system that works well,” he explained.

“I’ve seen systems fail to deliver the intended uptake and value simply due to complexity. Simple wins every time, both for patients and for doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals using the platform.

“An overwhelmed healthcare system requires support from digital tools to simplify where possible. Offering many capabilities within one platform means better delivery of engagement and ultimately, better care,” he added.

Cutting patient messaging costs

With over 30m users, the NHS App is one of the most powerful patient communication tools available to NHS commissioners. Optimising this channel with population usage visibility is now available through iPLATO’s utilisation dashboard.

According to recent research into patient communication costs in the NHS, currently some regions spend over £1 per patient per year on SMS systems.

As a result of in-app messaging and other volume control features iPLATO can offer unlimited messaging with generous fair usage caps that allow ICB commissioners to save up to 80% of their SMS bill.