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Free health care app will allow patients to make doctor appointments, order prescriptions

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Key Points
  • The app will be available to everyone in England in December and can be downloaded from Apple’s App Store or Google Play.
  • Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt describes the app as a “world first” that will revolutionize the way people access health services.
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A free app from the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS) will give patients in England the opportunity to undertake a range of actions related to their medical care, it was announced Monday.

Among other things, the app will allow patients to book appointments with their doctor and order repeat prescriptions.

The impact of such an interface could be significant in terms of how people make bookings to see their doctor, known as a general practitioner (GP). Currently, many patients have to make appointments via telephone on a first come, first serve basis.

Patients will also be able to use the app to “state their preferences” on the topics of data-sharing, end-of-life care and organ donation.

The app, which will be available to everyone in England in December, can be downloaded from Apple’s App Store or Google Play. It has been developed by NHS Digital and NHS England.

Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt described the NHS app as a “world first” that would revolutionize the way people accessed health services.

“I want this innovation to mark the death-knell of the 8 a.m. scramble for GP appointments that infuriates so many patients,” he said in a statement Monday.

“Technology has transformed everyday life when it comes to banking, travel and shopping,” Hunt added. “Health matters much more to all of us, and the prize of that same digital revolution in healthcare isn’t just convenience, but lives improved, extended and saved.”

The chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, Helen Stokes-Lampard, said that the NHS app represented a significant and constructive step forward in the way care was managed.

She added that adequate safeguards needed to be in place to ensure the “utmost protection” of patients’ personal data.

“Considering that patient's medical history will be accessible on individual's mobile phones on the apps, we need to ensure that the security and reliability of the identity verification processes being used are of the highest international security standards.”

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