Smart health support

Ben Foster (second from the left) and his Team at Patient.co.uk
Ben Foster (second from the left) and his Team at Patient.co.uk
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Internet experts from Sheffield have launched the UK’s first app that lets patients book appointments with their doctors using a smartphone.

The Patient Access Mobile app is the brainchild of Sheffield Bioincubator-based Patient.co.uk, which is part of EMIS, the healthcare software and services specialist run by Neil Laycock, the former chief of city-based Internet Service Provider Plusnet.

In addition to booking appointments, the app will let any patient whose GP uses EMIS’s software to order repeat prescriptions, send secure messages to their GP’s practice and update their personal details.

The app works on both Android mobile phones and iPhones and is one of the first to be included in the NHS Commissioning Board’s new Health Apps Library.

The library is a collection of recommended online tools designed to improve the health and wellbeing of the nation.

Four established Patient.co.uk apps have also been included in the library.

They include a depression calculator, irritable bowel syndrome symptom tracker, sleep diary and a health information app which links in to information on diseases, conditions, medicines, drugs and health issues on the Patient.co.uk web site.

EMIS’s software is used by more than half the GP practices in the UK to store the records of around 39 million patients, arrange appointments and issue repeat prescriptions.

Patient.co.uk’s Ben Foster says more than 1.8 million patients from over 2,200 GP practices are currently using EMIS’s web-based Patient Access system.

In January alone, more than a quarter of a million requests for repeat medication were made through the service, and over 148,000 GP appointments were booked.

Mr Foster says feedback from GPs and their patients showed there was demand for accessing the system from mobile devices as well as PCs connected to the internet and led to the development of the app. Patient.co.uk’s clinical consultant, London GP Dr Sarah Jarvis, a regular guest on radio and TV shows, said “Over a third of visits to the Patient.co.uk site are now via mobile device.

“As a working GP, this isn’t surprising to me. More and more of my patients are seeking out new ways, often involving technology, to manage their health.

“Booking GP appointments and ordering repeat prescriptions quickly and easily via an app is a significant development that is absolutely in tune with modern living.”

The Patient.co.uk’s app is free to download from http://www.patient.co.uk/accessapp, but will only work if the GP is an EMIS practice.