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Patients’ group survey shows approval of NHS App


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Woman using NHS App on smartphone
Image source: NHS Digital

A report from a patients’ group has given a generally positive appraisal of the NHS App, but with some reservations.

The Patient Coalition for AI, Data and Digital Tech in Health, which works within the Patients Association charity, has published Public and Patient Experience of the NHS App with the overall message that it is valued by the public.

Its survey of 637 people found that 78% said they use the app, finding it easy and of value. This especially applies to those who use the full range of functions, have access to appropriate technology and feel confident in using it.

The most popular functions were ordering a repeat prescription (68%), reviewing personal health records (53%) and checking for test results (51%). 20% used the app weekly and 24% monthly, but 10% did so rarely and 6% had stopped using it.

In addition, carers find it beneficial in supporting the health needs of people they care for.

But 23% said they never or rarely used it for technical reasons, including problems with downloading the app, registration and logging in.

Access problems

But problems for some users became apparent in the survey. 39% of respondents said they could not use it accessing test results and 36% for personal health records, and some GP practices had prevented access to some records despite being urged by NHS England to make them available.

The report produces a series of recommendations on how use of the app could be improved. They include a wider promotion of its benefits, improving the log-in process, simplifying the language and navigation, providing translations into common non-English languages, and making people aware they can access the app from tablet or laptop computers

It also says that GPs should not be allowed to restrict access to some information.

“A small but significant proportion of people will choose not to engage with the app or are unable to engage with it due to technological issues, disabilities, or cost limitations,” the report says.

“Healthcare providers need to ensure healthcare services will still be available for use via traditional face-to-face or telephone appointments and make it clearer to people that using digital services is a choice.”

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