NHS Digital has worked to integrate new functionality into the NHS App which allows patients to safely and easily book and manage their e-Referral Service (e-RS) referrals, helping to reduce non-attendance rates and save time for GPs.
While the functionality has been live since October 2020, NHS Digital has now been able to see the beneficial results of their work and recommend it for use by GPs across the NHS.
Using the functionality, GPs are able to email appointment booking details for e-RS referrals directly to patients with an NHS login, who can then securely access the NHS Manage Your Referral website direct from the NHS App, saving time, money and resources on having to print and post booking instructions.
Initial research data has shown the move to the new functionality had made clearly demonstratable benefits. When patients booked their own appointments, the ‘did not attend’ rate reduced by as much as half.
This allowed patients to be treated quickly and effectively, while GP practices saved on having to refer patients multiple times.
Martin O’Keeffe, Senior Clinical Lead at NHS Digital said: “We’ve put the power back into patients’ hands, giving them another digital route to book and manage their own hospital appointments.
“The NHS App will provide an easy, quick and secure way to do this on the move, meaning many patients won’t have to wait for their referral details in the post before they book their first appointment.
“The NHS App currently has over 2 million verified users. With 40% of e-RS appointments currently being booked by practice staff, this provides a powerful push for primary care to introduce their patients to the benefits of the NHS App, and save themselves and the wider NHS both time and money.
“This will make the whole process smoother and simpler for everyone involved and ultimately will improve patient care.
“This is part of a series of improvements that are being made to the NHS e-Referral service designed to help clinicians and patients.”