UK health secretary Jeremy Hunt is due to give a speech at an NHS conference on Tuesday September 12 pledging that the NHS will be entering the digital age, as early as next year. 

What this means is that patients will be able to access their medical records, book a GP appointment, and order a repeat prescription on their smartphones by the end of June 2018.

The speech at the Health and Care Innovation Expo in Manchester comes as the NHS heads towards its 70th anniversary. The National Health Service was founded July 1948. 

Hunt is expected to say: “People should be able to access their own medical records 24/7, show their full medical history to anyone they choose and book basic services like GP appointments or repeat prescriptions online.

“I do not underestimate the challenge of getting there – but if we do it will be the best possible 70th birthday present from the NHS to its patients.”

Already being tested

This service is going to come in the form of an app, which follows in the footsteps of the NHS 111 app created by Babylon Healthcare, which can currently be used in London instead of calling the 111 non-emergency phone line.

There is currently a trial – called NHS GP at hand – being run in London Borough Hammersmith and Fulham of the full Babylon app that allows patients to transfer to the app as your registered GP. If you are in other regions of the UK, the Babylon app can be used but at a price. 

In the Babylon app, you can book and have an appointment with a GP over your smartphone as a video call. Whether this is the app that Hunt is planning for rollout nationwide is unclear, but given that it’s actively being tested means there’s a good chance. 

Given the recent malware attacks on the NHS, safety is a question that immediately comes to mind when thinking about digitising healthcare. If more of our medical information is being broadcast and held remotely on our devices, it increases the potential vulnerabilities of what is very valuable and sensitive information. 

As we learn more about what the digital plan for healthcare is we will let you know. 

Via: The Guardian

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