The UK's National Health Service (NHS) will launch a new wide-ranging app in December that allows all patients to book appointments, consult their medical records, and more, the government agency announced last week. Though many of the features are already available online, the new app will bring them together into one mobile access point.
"I want this innovation to mark the death-knell of the 8 a.m. scramble for GP appointments that infuriates so many patients," Jeremy Hunt, the UK's Health and Social Care Secretary, said in a statement. "Technology has transformed everyday life when it comes to banking, travel, and shopping. 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 app will be launched in a test capacity this September and available to all patients in December. It was announced on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the NHS.
"As the NHS turns 70 and we draw up a long-term plan for the NHS on the back of our £394 million [$520 million] a week funding boost, it’s time to catch up and unleash the power of technology to transform everyday life for patients," Hunt said.
In addition to booking appointments and consulting medical records, patients will be able to order repeat prescriptions, access 111 (the UK's emergency medical number) online, and manage long-term conditions. They will also be able to store personal preferences related to data-sharing, organ donation, and end-of-life care in the app.
"The new app will put the NHS into the pocket of everyone in England but it is just one step on the journey," NHS England National Director of Operations and Information Matthew Swindells said in a statement. "We are also developing an NHS Apps Library and putting free NHS WiFi in GP surgeries and hospitals."
Another step on that journey: The NHS Apps Library recently added a new mental health app called My Possible Self. The app uses self-tracking and coaching to help users deal with day-to-day problems, manage fears, and improve happiness and wellbeing. Modules in the app use cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, problem-solving therapy, and positive psychology tools.
“We have a great team, great content and great technology and we are delighted to have successfully demonstrated that we meet NHS technical, clinical, and safety standards," Joanne Wilkinson, founder and chief executive of My Possible Self, said in a statement last week. “We passionately believe My Possible Self has the power to help users manage fear, anxiety, and stress.”