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NHS Digital announces patient de-identification software partnership

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  • NHS Digital announces patient de-identification software partnership

    NHS Digital announces patient de-identification software partnership

    Thursday, 05 July 2018 16:48
  • Over half of acute trusts are now using GP e-Referral Service

    Over half of acute trusts are now using GP e-Referral Service

    Thursday, 14 June 2018 14:29
  • NEWS app for sepsis scoring available

    NEWS app for sepsis scoring available

    Monday, 04 June 2018 09:58
  • NHS launches National Data Opt-Out facility

    NHS launches National Data Opt-Out facility

    Thursday, 31 May 2018 09:01
  • ePACT to be decommissioned on June 8 as ePACT2 takes over

    ePACT to be decommissioned on June 8 as ePACT2 takes over

    Tuesday, 29 May 2018 12:48

patient-using-pcAugust 19 2015

Only 6% of patients will normally book a GP appointment online despite a third (34%) saying they want to, a Citizens Advice survey has found. And more than a quarter of patients (27%) said they were unaware of being able to make appointments online.

Other factors which are impairing uptake of online bookings include “users have encountered technical difficulties and can find the requirement to attend the GP practice to collect online login details problematic,” says Citizens Advice. “Meanwhile, new paid-for services are starting to offer new ways to access a GP online or via a mobile device.”

Citizens Advice has analysed data from the GP Patient Survey collected over the past five years. “Despite the drive to increase access to online GP services and a growing number of patients preferring digital, the large majority (87%) still book GP appointments over the phone and nearly three in ten patients (28%) said they book appointments in person,” it said.

Preferences for booking on line have increased since 2011, but the proportion of patients preferring to book online decreases with patient age - peaking with the 25-34 years age group, and falling below 10% among those aged 75 or over.

Citizens Advice points out that as of March 2015, all GP practices have been required to offer online appointment bookings, as well as repeat prescriptions and access to summary patient but the proportion of GPs offering online booking was already 83% prior to June 2014.

It believes two factors are behind why there is low patient usage of online services: limited patient awareness; and the functionality of online GP services.

“Low awareness may to some extent explain low usage,” says Citizens Advice. “Over half of patients (53%) said they don’t know which services are available online, whilst 10% of patients said no online services were available at their GP practice.

“For many GP practices, it’s still early days for their online services, but these findings suggest there is scope to increase awareness of their offer to patients.”

In addition, 45% of 18-24 year olds would prefer online appointment booking, but “only 23% said they were aware of their GP practice offering this option. The majority (59%) of 18-24 year olds said they didn’t know what was available. The findings are similar for those aged 25-34, where 50% said they prefer online booking, but only 26% were aware of their GP service providing this option.”

Functionality problems may stem from factors such as practices requiring a patient to attend the practice in person to obtain the necessary login details for online service but the patient may have difficulties attending during surgery hours. Another problem can be the online patient portal failing to recognise that they are a registered patient.

“The shift to online GP services will, of course, not be appropriate for everyone. But by encouraging awareness and usage, GP practices can improve patient satisfaction whilst also freeing up time to help those who cannot access digital services,” says Citizens Advice.

Professor Nigel Mather, RCGP Honorary Secretary, has responded to the research saying it is “good news that so many GP practices have embraced new technology and innovative ways of working to help meet this challenge.

“Our growing numbers of patients with multiple and chronic health conditions, will particularly benefit from online services such as being able to book and cancel appointments, order repeat prescriptions online and view a summary of the medical records.

“GPs and their teams have done their bit to make these services available, now we need policy-makers to make the public aware that they exist. The College is leading the way and has already produced guidance for GPs and practice staff to promote online services to patients as part of its Patient Online toolkit.”

Links:

Citizens Advice announcement                

CA ‘Understanding patient access to online GP services’ report               

RCGP response               

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