Mel PoluckEditorWednesday 13 September 2017

NHS health management app live by end of year

Jeremy Hunt announces '70th birthday present from NHS to patients' along with new digital innovation funding

Every NHS user in England will be able to access their medical records and book appointments on their smartphone or laptop by the end of 2018, health secretary Jeremy Hunt (pictured) announced this week.

The service, to be made available via an app or web browser, will provide access to the 111 non-emergency service and let patients order repeat prescriptions and make appointments with their GP online.

Users will also be able to “express their organ donation preferences”, “express their data sharing preferences”; and access support for managing a long-term condition using the service.

A trial of the app is already up and running in South East London, which also lets patients receive online consultations with their GP. Other pilot NHS digitisation projects are underway across the country, including the MyCOPD app, which helps sufferers of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease manage their condition.

Innovation funding

Hunt made the announcement at the NHS Health Expo in Manchester (highlights here), where he also announced the launch of several pots of funding to encourage further innovation, including:

  • a £100,000 fund for the MyNHS open data challenge to reward creative apps and digital tools to improve services based on open data.
  • £160 million funding for 18 'fast followers', including Wye Valley NHS Trust, Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and The Whittington Hospital, London
  • £21 million of new matched funding for up to seven mental health “fast followers” creating up to £42 million investment.

Hunt told delegates: “If the NHS is going to be the safest, highest-quality healthcare system in the world we need to do technology better. People should be able to access their own medical records 24/7, show their full medical history to anyone they choose, and book basic services – like GP appointments or repeat prescriptions – online."

Hunt said prior to the event: “I do not underestimate the challenge of getting there - but if we do it will be the best possible 70th birthday present from the NHS to its patients.”

Mind the gap

In the meantime, a project has been launched by NHS Digital’s Widening Participation programme with the Good Things Foundation to address the correlation between digital exclusion and health inequality.

Five new projects have been announced, adding to two 'pathfinder' projects announced in March this year in Sheffield and Islington:

  • Stoke on Trent CCG working with people who have long term cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses.
  • Nailsea Town Council will establish a high street digital hub to enable sharing​ ​of​ ​digital​ ​health​ ​skills​ ​between​ ​younger​ ​people​ ​and​ ​older people.
  • MYMUP (Making Your Mind Up) a charity in Bradford working with people with dementia, people with diabetes and young people (aged 13-25) who are carers for them.
  • Wakefield CCG and West Yorkshire STP investigating​ ​the​ ​potential​ ​of​ ​wearable​ ​technology​ ​for​ ​patients​ ​with​ ​vision​ ​and​ ​hearing impairments​ ​​to support accessibility​ ​to​ ​health.
  • Seaview project in Hastings focusing on digital​ ​health​ ​inclusion​ ​for​ ​those​ ​who​ ​are​ ​homeless​ ​or​ ​insecurely​ ​housed.