A new review has urged GPs to encourage patients to use online services to book appointments and request repeat prescriptions.
Baroness Martha Lane Fox, and IT and internet entrepreneur, was asked by health secretary Jeremy Hunt to investigate how online access could be improved and online services made more widely available for those who don’t have access at home. In a review, Baroness Lane Fox suggested that GPs actively encourage patients to go online rather than visit or telephone surgeries. She also said health centres and surgeries should provide free WiFi access to make using online services quick and easy.
According to the report, GP surgeries should aim to get around 10% of patients to “go digitial” by the year 2017. Another recommendation was to make sure NHS staff members have up to date training in the use of digital software and internet programmes. Providing access to the latest health services is part of the NHS pledge and enabling more people to access internet services would create a more efficient system.
National director for patients and information for NHS England, Tim Kelsey, said that making use of digital health tools can provide a better service for patients and expressed support for the report.
The considerations will be discussed by the National Information Board today (Tuesday 8th December). If approved, finances will be made available by the government in the form of a health technology fund, which was mentioned in the November spending review by Chancellor George Osborne.
The Royal College of General Practitioners suggests that surgeries already do a lot to promote online services, however more needs to be done to address access issues in rural areas and support should be provided for doctors, who already under significant pressure and have a heavy workload.