Patients will have access to two new features on the NHS App effective 30 January, allowing them to see the estimated waiting time for hospital treatment and view all prescription details, NHS England said.
The new features are being added as the NHS runs a campaign to encourage more people to use the app in their everyday lives and help free up time on the frontline.
Patients in England aged 16 and over referred into a specialty at NHS acute trusts now will be able to see the mean (average) waiting time for their hospital treatment. They will see that they are on a waiting list and an estimated waiting time for their hospital treatment.
Patients can already see information regarding their estimated waiting time on the NHS App: within the NHS e-Referral Service (e-RS) Manage Your Referral, when a patient selects their clinic, they are shown information regarding their first appointment and the mean (average) waiting time to start treatment. However, after this screen, a patient was no longer able to view this information as they continue their care journey.
The new waiting times feature will continue to present the patient information stating they are on a waiting list at their provider and the estimated waiting time for treatment to ensure that patients are provided with a continued and consistent experience on the NHS App.
New prescription feature follows pilot
Following a successful trial last year involving over a million users, NHS England is also adding a new service to the app that will allow patients to see when their prescriptions have been issued and view their prescribed medication.
Users without a nominated pharmacy will be able to use a barcode in the app to collect their prescription from any pharmacy instead of needing a paper version. Anyone who has a nominated pharmacy can continue to collect medication without a paper prescription or barcode as details are sent to their pharmacy electronically.
Patients can already use the NHS App to request repeat prescriptions digitally and the number of repeat prescriptions ordered through the app has grown by 45% over the past year, with an average of 3.1 million now requested every month.
Each repeat prescription ordered electronically saves GP practices three minutes of time, with those ordered using the app expected to save the equivalent of 1.85 million hours in 2024.
Vin Diwakar, national director for transformation at NHS England, said: “Giving all patients in England direct access to prescription information through the app means they’ll know when their prescription is issued and avoid delays in collection.
“The prescription service is the latest in a number of services we’re adding to the NHS App to provide better care for patients. I’d encourage anyone who hasn’t used the NHS App for a while, or who has never downloaded it, to tap the app and see what it has to offer.”
Patients also save an average of 18 minutes with each online order, making it more convenient for patients and freeing up frontline staff to do other important duties.
Joe Harrison, National Director of Mobile First at NHS England, added: “Millions of people are already using the app to order repeat prescriptions, and they’ll now also be able to view and manage their prescriptions using the new service in the app.”
The NHS App has gained 33.6 million registered users – equivalent to around three quarters of the adult population – since its launch five years ago.