Jeremy Hunt is expected to promise that every patient in England will be able to access their medical records and book a GP appointment via an app by the end of 2018.
The health secretary will unveil the new commitment at NHS Expo tomorrow – where he is due to give a keynote address at 4pm – as part of what he will call “the decade of patient power”.
The new pledge will follow similar calls from Hunt to focus on the digitisation of the NHS and the importance of moving towards paperless ways of working, although the target date for that has been pushed back from its original 2020 goal.
During his speech, Hunt will promise the national roll-out of an integrated app which patients will also be able to use to order repeat prescriptions and access NHS 111, all of which should be ready for use by 2018 – the health service’s 70th birthday year.
“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,” he is due to say. “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.”
The secretary of state will also highlight areas where pilots are already underway as part of the government’s £4.2bn personalised health and care 2020 programme announced last year. In south-east London, for example, patients can already access NHS 111 and book GP appointments, order prescriptions and receive online consultations via their smartphone.
Online trials of support for long-term conditions have also been successful, Hunt will say, such as the MyCOPD app, which helps patients self-manage their conditions.
Evaluations of these pilots are ongoing, with learnings and best practice expected to be embedded in a national roll-out of the programme in the coming months.
In the same digital vein, Hunt is also due to launch the £100,000 MyNHS open data challenge, a fund designed to sponsor creative and innovative apps and other digital tools that make use of open data to boost services and compilate insights.
Sarah Wilkinson, the new chief executive of NHS Digital, welcomed the health secretary’s “clear vision for the provision of technology services”.
“Good digital services will make care safer and more accessible and free-up more time for doctors and nurses to spend with patients,” she argued. “We are already working intently towards the delivery of these outcomes and have made substantial progress, in areas including enhancing 111 Online and NHS.UK and launching Acute and Mental Health Global Digital Exemplars.
“We are committed to achieving the targets outlined by the secretary of state, by the end of 2018. This will be great cause for celebration at the end of the NHS’s 70th birthday year.”
Source: National Health Executive