NHS England has begun to make the NHS App publicly available, forecasting that it should be good for use throughout the country by the beginning of July.
It said the move has followed successful private testing with more than 3,000 patients and 30 GP practices.
The app has been designed to give patients a secure online route to healthcare services, works with the NHS login and is integrated with the leading GP IT systems.
It went into the Apple App and Google Play stores for mobile devices at the turn of the year and a web based version is due to be launched in the coming months.
NHS England is now encouraging GP practices to review their system settings before going live with the app. It will enable users to book and manage appointments, order repeat prescriptions, view the GP medical record, register as an organ donor and check symptoms using NHS 111 online and the health A-Z on the NHS website.
Patients can check whether their GP practice is live when they open the app for the first time. If their GP practice isn’t live they can choose to leave an email address and be notified when their practice goes live.
Most practices are expected to go live between April and June, with others to follow by 1 July.
Changes in testing
A number of changes were made during the testing between September and December. They included amendments to the online registration process, how information on GP appointments is presented, and changes to the information patients see before accessing their GP medical record.
Matthew Swindells, deputy chief executive of NHS England, said: “The NHS wants to empower the public to take more control of their own healthcare, and the new app, which has already been tested by more than 3,000 people, will put the NHS into the pocket of everyone in England, providing safe and secure access to trusted health information, 111 online, repeat prescriptions and GP appointments.
“Through the Long Term Plan we see the app as the digital front door into the NHS, for those who want to use it, and once rolled out we will continue to develop and enhance its offer to patients, making it the ‘must have’ health app for everyone in England.”
The plan, published earlier this month, places an emphasis on the use of the app to reduce the number of face-to-face primary care appointments, one of the major pressures on the NHS. It will be supported by further investment in the nhs.uk platform.