GP consultation app launch met with some reservations

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  • GP consultation app launch met with some reservations

    GP consultation app launch met with some reservations

    Friday, 10 November 2017 17:35
  • ICO extends GDPR helpline with specific support for small organisations

    ICO extends GDPR helpline with specific support for small organisations

    Monday, 06 November 2017 11:40
  • New document summaries data security and protection requirements for health and care services

    New document summaries data security and protection requirements for health and care services

    Thursday, 02 November 2017 16:34
  • My Health Online system enhancements announced in Wales

    My Health Online system enhancements announced in Wales

    Wednesday, 25 October 2017 15:33
  • EPS has saved prescribers £327 million

    EPS has saved prescribers £327 million

    Friday, 13 October 2017 10:03

a computer imageSeptember 20 2017

A range of guides to help people with disabilities access online GP services have been published by NHS England.

 The guides are intended to support people with sight loss, hearing loss, autism or learning difficulties so that they can better access online services such as booking appointments, ordering repeat prescriptions or viewing their medical records. There are also “bespoke guides” on how to sign up to online services, how to keep accounts secure and how to request access for a carer.

The guides have been developed in partnership with the charities Change, the National Autistic Society, RNIB, Sense and Action on Hearing Loss.

Dr Masood Nazir, national clinical lead for Patient Online at NHS England, said: “As a GP, I am aware of the barriers faced by people with disabilities when accessing services. GP online services offered through Patient Online are particularly helpful for many people with disabilities, as they can use accessible technology such as screen readers to independently book their appointments, order repeat prescriptions and review the information in their health record.

“We are striving to make GP online services as user-friendly and as accessible as possible and these new guides have been carefully developed with input from both patients and disability groups. Together, these resources will support many more people with disabilities to benefit from Patient Online.”

RCGP Chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard noted that more than 97% GP practices can offer online services, such as the ability to book appointments, or for patients to access their medical records. While technology can be “hugely beneficial,” she warned: “New technological initiatives don’t suit all patients, and we must be cautious not to alienate vulnerable patients who are perhaps elderly, poor or simply not as tech-savvy.

“Technology can be wonderful, but it is essential that any new innovation or scheme is piloted and rigorously evaluated in terms of its benefit to patient care and the wider NHS, before it is rolled out widely.”

Prof Stokes-Lampard added: “We also need to dispel the myth that just because we are using technology to do something, we are also saving resources. To take NHS 111 as an example; we question whether an app, no matter how complex or ‘intelligent’ the algorithm it uses, is qualified to decide how urgent a patient’s health complaint is – so this service will still need to be staffed appropriately and evaluated carefully to ensure that the NHS is getting a quality service that represents real value for money.”

The RCGP has welcomed “the same rigorous inspection process to independent ‘digital doctors’ that might offer medical services online or via an app, that is applied to NHS GPs and hospitals. The College has long raised patient safety concerns around services that offer GP virtual consultations for a fee, without necessarily having access to the patient's full medical – and medication – history.”

Around 10 million patients have signed up so far to access GP service online.

Links:
NHS England announcement       
RCGP comment                

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