We are living in an age dominated by technology. Our surgery, Hucknall Road Medical Centre has seen a surge in the use of technology to achieve tasks which were previously done face to face, via letter or over the phone.
As a practice, we fully support technological changes and advancements and we actively promote these to our patients. When used appropriately these advancements provide benefit to the entire community not only in accessing services but also promoting healthy life choices.
The NHS App and its benefits
The introduction of the NHS App is an exciting development which we have fully embraced since it was launched in our practice in March 2019. It offers our patients the ability to book appointments, order repeat prescriptions and view their records. It has the added features (over alternate apps) of a symptoms checker using the health A-Z on the NHS website and patients can also find out what to do when they need help urgently using NHS 111 online.
A big selling point to patients is that you can sign up at home. The current method of coming into reception with two forms of identification is cumbersome for those that don’t come that often, or just pop in to collect a prescription and have left their wallet at home. The NHS App has NHS Login which can be done without any interaction with the surgery, benefiting the patient and reducing workload in the practice.
Preparing for the App
I think the most important thing to do before you begin promoting the app is to prepare your staff. Front line staff in particular will encounter many patient issues so they must have the knowledge and resources available to be able to signpost the patient to the correct place for help. The NHS help page www.nhs.uk/apphelp is very comprehensive and will answer most questions; there is also a feedback box for patients to submit their own. We have set up text pre-sets for reception, so they can send this directly to the patients’ mobile.
Since we started trialling the App, we have seen a 1.5% sign up from a list size of 13,200. We have achieved this by using promotion across a range of platforms. Initially, we did a mass text campaign, and this generated over 100 sign ups overnight. We then began promoting on our website, social media pages, waiting area, prescription messages and newsletters. The NHS App webpage has a range of readymade templates which you can copy and paste as needed.
Although it is in its early stages the benefits to surgery are apparent. Being able to book directly into an appointment, or ordering a prescription will reduce the number of phone calls, so reception can focus on more complex queries. Similarly, patients having access to their own record will hopefully reduce the need to speak to the doctor and encourage patients to take a more active role in their health.
Photo: Colleagues from Hucknall Road Medical Centre.