App providing single point of access for NHS services to be launched

A new roadmap outlines key projects that will help NHS patients take control of their health and care through access to secure digital tools.

[London, UK] Plans to launch a new app providing access to secure online health services through the Personalised Health and Care 2020 programme have now been confirmed.

A new roadmap published at the beginning of February, first reported by Digital Health, sets out the timeline for key national projects looking to empower patients to take control of their own health and care through improved access to digital tools.

Last September, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said all patients should be able to access their medical records and book a GP appointment by using an NHS app before the end of 2018.

“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,” the Health Secretary said at the time.

David Hodnett, NHS Online Delivery Lead, revealed in a blog that a ten-week discovery phase looking to inform the development of the app had now been completed. 

According to Hodnett, the research indicated that, among others, patients wanted access to their medical records and the ability to book appointments and order repeat prescriptions by using the NHS app.

“In the discovery phase, we needed to understand the user needs for each of these services and test our ideas about how these needs could be met,” Hodnett said.

The team will now start with an alpha phase, initially focusing on developing the ability to book GP appointments, working closely with practices to understand user needs.

Key projects

The roadmap also indicates that the new NHS.UK website will go live during the third/fourth quarter of the year, providing access to the NHS Apps Library, currently in beta version.

Towards the end of February, NHS Digital revealed that it had chosen Our Mobile Health as the first third-party assessor for the Apps Library in an effort to transform it into a ‘go-to’ resource for evidence-based digital health solutions meeting the necessary technical, clinical and safety standards.

This is the first step in creating ‘an entire set of approved assessors’, according to Hazel Jones, NHS Digital Programmes Director.

During the first quarter of the 2018-19 financial year, the NHS will also launch in an alpha version the citizen ID project, which will provide a single central verification method for people to securely access online health services.

The system is expected to be available for wider use the following year.

Writing about the roadmap, Juliet Bauer, NHS England Chief Digital Officer, said the ‘digital NHS is open for business to encourage innovation that will raise the bar on the standard of digital health and care tools and services for patients’.

Related content:

NHS Digital to ‘create an entire set of approved assessors’ for the apps library

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