Annual surge in online GP services as patients sign-up for convenience

Annual surge in online GP services as patients sign-up for convenience

More than 372,000 patients across Hertfordshire and West Essex are now securely using online services with their family doctor to book appointments, request repeat prescriptions and view their records - saving time for themselves and busy GP practices.

Latest figures show a 42 per cent increase nationally – to 14 million – of patients signed-up at their GP practice compared to the same time last year.  

It means more than 26 per cent of patients in Hertfordshire and West Essex – 372,000 – are now registered to book appointments, order repeat prescriptions, view their patient records and see their test results using their smart phone, tablet, laptop or PC. 

These services are different from those offering online consultations with a GP.

The NHS Digital figures from February 2018 show an average of 29,000 appointments are being made or cancelled online every month in Hertfordshire and West Essex and more than 48,000 prescriptions ordered online, as practices and their patients are increasingly using digital technology. 

GP practices are also seeing the benefit as fewer people are failing to attend appointments because it’s so easy to reschedule online. 

Lincoln House Surgery in Hemel Hempstead has seen the proportion of its patients registered to use online services increase from less than 44 per cent in April last year to now almost 63 per cent. This is helping to reduce the number of phone calls the practice receives from patients, giving staff more time in the day to spend on other areas of their work.

Dr Masood Nazir, National Clinical Lead for NHS England Patient Online programme, describes how online access for patients is supporting practices to improve their clinical care. 

“There are many demands on GP practices, so encouraging patients to register for online services is not only helping reduce some of the pressure but it is empowering, enabling and motivating more patients to share the responsibility for their own health and wellbeing”, said Dr Nazir.

“Interacting with your GP practice online works well for patients with long term conditions who can use their GP record to become more knowledgeable and confident about their condition, treatment and care prior to attending an appointment with their doctor or nurse.”

Patients can access their detailed coded medical record to check what medication they take and that their immunisations are up-to-date before booking a holiday.

Juliet Bauer, Chief Digital Officer for the NHS said: “We’re delighted to see an almost doubling in the numbers of people accessing digital services in GP practices since last year. We’ve worked hard to support practice staff to offer these services to their patients. This is just one example of how we are increasing the use of technology in the NHS to empower people to take more control of their health, wellbeing and care.” 

For more information about GP online services visit www.nhs.uk

To sign-up for GP online services visit your GP practice with two forms of ID.