NHS will 'join the digital age' by 2018

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt will give a speech to an NHS conference tomorrow in which he'll unveil plans to bring the NHS into the digital age, with patients able to access health services via their smartphones from as early as next year. 

Under the proposals patients will be able to view their medical records, book a GP appointment, and order a repeat prescription on their phone by the end of June 2018.

The speech at the Health and Care Innovation Expo in Manchester comes as the NHS heads towards its 70th anniversary. The National Health Service was founded in July 1948. 

Hunt is expected to say: “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.

“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.”

Already being tested

This service is going to come in the form of an app, which follows in the footsteps of the NHS 111 app created by Babylon Healthcare, which can currently be used in London as an alternative to calling the 111 non-emergency phone line.

A trial of the full Babylon app – called NHS GP at hand – is currently being run in the London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, allowing patients to transfer to the app as their registered GP. If you're in other regions of the UK you can pay to access the Babylon app. 

In the Babylon app, you can book and have an appointment with a GP over your smartphone as a video call. Whether this is the app that Hunt is planning for rollout nationwide is unclear, but given that it’s actively being tested there’s a good chance. 

Given the recent malware attacks on the NHS, safety is a question that immediately comes to mind when thinking about digitising healthcare. If more of our medical information is being broadcast and held remotely on our devices, it increases the potential vulnerabilities of what is valuable and sensitive information. 

As we learn more about the Government's plans for digital healthcare we'll let you know. 

Via: The Guardian

Andrew London

Andrew London is a writer at Velocity Partners. Prior to Velocity Partners, he was a staff writer at Future plc.