New smartphone app aims to improve access to GP services
The app myGP, which has been developed by health technology company iPLATO, allows patients to securely book or cancel appointments. It also enables practices to automate data collection such as smoking status, streamline call and recall, improve adherence and access to medication and support self care through digital care plans.
iPLATO said that a benefit of the app compared with current online access arrangements is that registration for the service is easier for patients and practices. Patients register remotely using their date of birth and the mobile number they have registered with the practice and, following a quick authentication process, they are able to use the service.
NHS England commissioned the app with the aim of speeding up access to care by allowing patients to book or cancel appointments more easily. It is hoped that this will also help to reduce the burden on emergency services and A&E departments.
Alerts and reminders
Along with appointment booking, myGP provides patients with access to secure ‘WhatsApp-like’ practice-patient messaging, medication reminders and self care support tools to monitor weight and blood pressure.
Unlike current apps that patients use to book or cancel appointments, myGP is available to practices regardless of which clinical system they are using. For practices already using iPLATO’s Patient Care Messaging service, switching on myGP is straightforward – and free. The system also enables practices to promote the app via text messaging.
Working alongside iPLATO’s text messaging services, practices can also use myGP to send alerts and reminders about health campaigns such as seasonal flu immunisation, NHS Health Checks and cancer screening.
iPLATO said that initial response to the app from patients had been positive. In some cases, practices had added over 25% of their target patients to digital services within a few days.
Tobias Alpsten, chief executive of iPLATO said: ‘No other electronic channel elicits replies as quickly as SMS messaging, and GP practices will find that this technology builds on that. The app has been designed to be simple to install and easy to use, ensuring that patients can quickly embrace the new technology.
‘Research from a recent launch with a Kent practice found that 27% of patients enrolled on myGP within the first seven days – when this is replicated nationwide, we will be able to save the NHS a considerable amount of money in wasted appointments, but crucially, we are looking forward to supporting a CCG’s digital care plans to help improve patient outcomes.’
Research by GPonline last year revealed that more than 300,000 GP appointments are wasted every week across England by patients failing to show up. The finding suggested that more than 14m appointments are missed annually, at a cost of around £300m to the NHS.