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Hunt's GP smartphone app to 'strengthen' patient relationships, says public health chief

Allowing patients to access their medical record and book GP appointments through phone apps will help them build stronger relationships with their GPs, the Government’s lead on NHS information at Public Health England has said.

Professor John Newton, chief knowledge officer at Public Health England (PHE) and interim chair of the National Information Board, told Pulse ‘being able to transact with general practice using smartphones is definitely the way forward’ and this would ‘strengthen the bond’ between patients and GPs.

It comes after Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced a new multimillion pound package to expand digital health services, with the promise that people will soon be able to register with a GP, access their GP record and receive medical advice through smartphone apps.

GPC leads warned health apps should not be seen as a substitute for traditional care delivered by GPs.

However, speaking to Pulse at PHE’s annual conference, Professor Newton said the apps were ‘not intended to replace face-to-face contact, but provide another avenue for those who want to use it’.

He stressed the unique relationship between GPs and their registered patient list should remain the cornerstone of the NHS, and that use of digital technology would ‘strengthen that bond – it reduces the distance between the patient and the practice’.

Professor Newton insisted this should not increase the demand placed on general practice.

He said: ‘Obviously it has the potential to increase [healthcare] use, but if you buy into this model of a responsible concordat based on registration it shouldn’t do that.

'The duty on patients to use the NHS responsibly is much more apparent at the general practice level, whereas it is more difficult to develop that relationship with a faceless secondary care service’.

Readers' comments (22)

  • Mapp app - contraception

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  • Clapp app for STDs

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  • Splat app for falls

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  • 'professor newton insisted this should not place extra demand on general practice'..sounds like 'a government spokesman insists..blah blah blah'
    I suggest to him that instead of wasting even more money on unproven unnecessary detail to inflate your ego we spend money on HEALTHCARE?
    would that not be a nice change?
    how many more patients will suffer with delayed or reduced care in a desperately underfunded service due to similar ludicrous schemes..like elective gp and hospital at weekends;or dementia screening;or pfi;internal market;bloated trust managers;management 'consultants' etc etc ad infinitum to infinitely wasteful irresponsible lunacy.
    do these people not understand the word 'priority'?
    why are these political schemes not forced to go through NICE cost effectiveness scrutiny ?WHY?..we are talking about our money being spent(wasted)
    it may be clear that I disagree.

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  • No way will I let people register on-line.
    we keep our list size high by having a carefully fixed boundary.
    We have to hand back shed loads of registration applications each month. We need to keep grip of who we accept, which will be destroyed by on-line registration

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  • Step one get practices more computerised etc...
    Step two, privatise them..

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  • He has a Stupidphone that thinks it's smart enough to convince all that apps are the panacea for his Five Year Backward Plan.

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  • Bin app to change bins

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  • Suicie app for.... Oh no. Too late....

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  • I have always had an excellent relationship with doctors including my own and I do not want Hunt interfering. His interference with the Junior Doctors and their contract should warn us all off his accepting his interference in the doctor-patient relationship. Hunt will cause it to go on strike.

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