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Google searches for online prescription services have doubled

The demand for health technology has increased along with dissatisfaction in NHS general practice.

Patient with laptop


Demand for online health technology for GP and prescription services has increased, according to analysis by GK Strategy, a research agency, though healthcare professionals have questioned the legitimacy of patient-centred health technology

Internet search activity for online GP and prescription services in the UK has increased, as dissatisfaction with NHS general practice has also risen.

An analysis by research agency GK Strategy of Google search data showed that the number of requests for information on online GP and prescribing services had increased by 99% since 2014 and by 36% in the past 12 months, compared with the previous year.

The report also found that demand for technology that helps patients administer their own medicine has grown dramatically by 600% since April 2014.

The report said that data from NHS England’s 2017 GP patient survey indicated that patient satisfaction with GP services had declined since 2016 across several key metrics, including surgery opening hours, waiting times, and ease in contacting their GP and securing an appointment.

Robin Grainger, director of GK Strategy and author of the report, said: “Regulators and health professionals have already expressed concerns regarding the safety and legitimacy of patient-centred health tech. 

“Effective collaboration between health-tech providers, NHS trusts, policymakers and regulators is essential to ensure we take full advantage of these new technologies, while protecting patients.”

Robbie Turner, Royal Pharmaceutical Society director for England, said the demand for such technology would only continue to rise.

“The increasing use of health technology by patients and the public to manage their healthcare is undoubtedly going to have a significant impact on how pharmacists practise over the next few years. 

“Pharmacists have a unique role in being able to advise patients on their use of technology — it does carry some risks for pharmacy, but also an immense opportunity.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20205019

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