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Technology

NHS app to allow patients to order repeat prescriptions

A new smartphone app from NHS England, allowing patients to order repeat prescriptions and book GP appointments will be piloted from October 2018, before being rolled out nationwide by the end of the year.

Pilot testing of a new NHS smartphone app will begin in Liverpool, Hastings, Bristol, Staffordshire and South Warwickshire in October 2018, before being rolled out across England in December 2018.

Patients in these areas will be testing the app, which will allow them to order repeat prescriptions, book GP appointments and access their medical records. It will also offer online access to the NHS 111 service and has provide options for data sharing, organ donation and end-of-life preferences.

The app is being launched as provision of digital access to repeat prescriptions is growing, despite reservations from some pharmacy leaders that this new model could threaten the financial viability of some community pharmacies and damage the face to face relationship between the profession and patients.

The NHS app was, however, welcomed by Lee Dentith, chief executive of Now Healthcare — the company behind the repeat prescription app ‘Now Patient’, which is aimed at patients with long-term conditions.

Dentith said: “We very much welcome the government [app] because it’s what the public wants — they want digital interaction.

“My only concern is in relation to the [prescription] re-ordering mechanism. At the moment the [pharmacy] re-nomination process can be confusing for some patients and some pharmacists about what they are allowed to do.”

The NHS app is one a number of initiatives that the government hopes will fulfil its ambition to make the NHS an “ecosystem” for the best technology available.

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock told delegates at the NHS Expo event in Manchester on 6 September 2018 that a new national HealthTech Advisory Board — chaired by Ben Goldacre, leading scientific academic, broadcaster and author — is also being established. The board will report directly to Hancock, highlighting best practice and identifying where change needs to happen.

The intention is that the board will become “an ideas hub” for how to improve patient outcomes and experience and make the lives of NHS staff easier, Hancock said.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20205424

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