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GPs to consult patients using new Government NHS app from 2019

The new NHS app could support GP video consultations from next year, according to NHS Digital.

A freedom of information request from technology magazine Gizmodo to NHS Digital, revealed that an update to the app in 2019 could enable GPs to hold video consultations with their patients.

However, the information also revealed that only patients at certain practices will be able to use all the features of the app when it first launches to the public in December.

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt first announced the app last year and it is expected to be piloted across 10 practices, covering 2,000 patients, from next month.

The initial version of the app will enable patients to book appointments, check their symptoms, order repeat prescriptions, access 111 online for urgent medical queries, and state their preferences for organ donation and data sharing.

However, a later update to the app will allow patients to connect their Apple Watch or FitBit to the app as well as consult with their GP over video.

According to the documents, video consultations and connectivity to other devices are a ‘priority’ for the app in 2019.

This comes after health secretary Matt Hancock said a Babylon-style GP at Hand model, which promises a face-to-face video consultations within hours, should become 'available to all' patients.

Beyond 2019, the information suggests the app will link up with the e-referral service to allow patients to book hospital or clinic appointments.

BMA GP Committee prescribing lead Dr Andrew Green said: 'All of our lives have been revolutionised by digital processes over recent years, and it would be naïve to imagine general practice would be unaffected.

'The challenge will be to ensure that new ways to access GP care do not compromise safety, do not prioritise the needs of the well over those of the sick, and do not increase demand in non-commercial systems where increased footfall consumes resources rather than generates income.'

Recent research has revealed that there is limited evidence that GP video consultations are safe, effective or improve patient access to primary care.

NHS Digital said it plans to pilot the app, with the initial features, at the end of next month with around 2,000 patients from ten GP practices.

The app will then be launched to the wider public from December this year.

However, NHS Digital confirmed that only patients at practices using the EMIS IT system will have full access to the app from the day it launches as EMIS is currently the only system that is fully compatible with the app.

As of 2016, 56% of practices were using EMIS, while 36% were using SystmOne (also known as TPP).

This comes as NHS Digital has launched the procurement process for a new GP IT system, which is to be implemented next summer.

The Department of Health and Social Care declined to comment.

Readers' comments (14)

  • AlanAlmond

    'The challenge will be to ensure that new ways to access GP care do not compromise safety, do not prioritise the needs of the well over those of the sick, and do not increase demand in non-commercial systems where increased footfall consumes resources rather than generates income.'

    In a nut shell precisely the problem. This is a commercial solution being ignorantly applied in a non-commercial one. Someone needs to explain how this facilitates allocation of limited resources to those most in need. I can’t see that it does. It’s a way of making money for private providers and that’s who’s driving it ...them and dumb f*&k politicians.

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  • Contacted defence union this has not been risk assessed,their is no advice on how it will increase indemnity.Also when the CQC one to visit,who will have to do a risk assent and a protocol for using the dogs dinner.GP ideally placed I bet.Until fundamental issues are sorted will not be using.This is dangerous and destabilising.

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  • The inverse care law is alive and well!
    How does this help the homeless? The frail elderly? Those with learning disabilities?
    Our system should be geared around those with the greatest need not the worried well in Islington.

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  • How much did the app developers get paid and will continue to be paid and is this an appropriate amount of money? What are the conflicts of interest that are being hidden here? Nhs digital need to be monitored every step of the way

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  • Recently had a meeting with GP peddling some dumb app to local CCGs .
    Comes up with smiley faces - are you happy today?
    :) or feeling sad? :(
    We were all supposed to be really impressed.
    I walked out early.
    It's nothing more than a GP nerd's money-making machine to facilitate early retirement.

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  • PS the job has gone mad (see above).
    54 yesterday, just 1094 days to go to retirement.

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  • I agree with above - most of these apps are complete crap but people seem to be obsessed with developing them.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Robocop loves apps. Here you go.
    Apps for physiotherapy , talking therapy , mental health , dermatology, the list goes on .
    We should change our profession to Appsician.
    GPs are Family Appsicians.
    Happy days , ha ha ha 😂🤣😁

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  • Technology is a necessity BUT forcing its evolution is an inevitable disaster 😱

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  • Apps are CRAPP

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