NHS IT, Records and Data

12.04.19

Mixed reviews for ‘full of jargon’ NHS App pilot ahead of summer rollout

NHS Digital has published the results of the pilot phase of the NHS App, finding that users were “enthusiastic” about using the app to order prescriptions but appointment bookings were “full of jargon.”

A number of criticisms have been raised by users of the NHS App after 34 practices took part in the pilot last year, with over 3,000 people registering.

The app has been advertised as providing services such as checking for symptoms, booking appointments, repeat prescription ordering, accessing patient records and organ donation preference, with the pilot aimed at supporting the national rollout later this year.

The main issue raised was around booking appointments, with some users claiming the app was effectively “pointless” because of a lack of availability via the app, but NHS Digital said a new framework was published in January ensuring all practices have at least 25% of appointments available online.

More than two-thirds of users found complicated internal terminology and abbreviations that did not make sense to them when using the app, with one user stating it was “full of jargon.”

One user said “the whole appointments section is really confusing and I can never make it work or search sensibly for appointments”, whilst another said it was full of references and acronyms they did not understand.

NHS Digital said in response that the NHS App team is working closely with the BMA and Royal College of GPs to explore how appointments can be improved with new guidance due in the upcoming months.

Whilst users said they had “expected more options,” the majority of feedback praised the look and feel of the app which was “easy to navigate” and “very user friendly.”

NHS Digital also reported that whilst there were concerns from some practices about sending text messages to large groups of patients, the concerns “did not materialise and the NHS App had no significant negative impact on the practices.”

In 2017, then health secretary Jeremy Hunt unveiled the plans for the NHS App and it is already available in app stores nationwide, but all GP practices will be fully connected to it by July this year.

NHS Digital said the pilot had highlighted a number of areas of work which would help it improve the app and the rollout process for GP surgeries.

With missed GP appointments costing the NHS £216m a year, the app is intended to “mark the death knell of 8am scramble for appointments,” although unions have raised concerns that it could risk bringing the “gig-economy” to the NHS.

 

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