NHS Digital has said that more 2,200 GP practices have been given access to an online consultation tool on the NHS App following an accelerated roll out.
The technology provider to England’s health and social care system said the tool has been developed with online consultation specialist eConsult, and that it was first deployed in April – two months before the planned national roll out – in response to the Covid-19 crisis.
This followed a request from NHS England and Improvement to help reduce the number of people going to GP surgeries to protect patients and staff from the risk of infections. It is based on the idea of every patient going through a triage before making an appointment.
Tracy Higgs, product lead at NHS Digital, said that early feedback on consultations through the app had been positive, and that it is working with other online consultation suppliers on integrating their products.
The consultation is carried out completely through the NHS App, using an API based on the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources standard.
Higgs said this makes it easier for the patients and will support adding new suppliers.
“It also allows practices to switch suppliers without needing any rework on the solution,” she said. “This gives them the flexibility to link with locally commissioned digital services, because we know that local areas often know what is best for them and their patients.
“Our strategy lays out how the NHS App will become a front door to not only online consultations, but many other digital health services as well.”
Image from nhs.uk, Open Government Licence v3.0