Patients are arranging GP appointments and ordering prescriptions online in their millions, NHS England digital lead Beverly Bryant announced on Wednesday, with online appointments on track to hit a grand total of more than 10m this financial year.
The numbers, projections for the full 2015/16 financial year, are based on activity figures from the first six months of the year collected by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).
Between April and September 2015, patients have booked or rearranged over 5m appointments using online services, and have ordered medications in almost 7.7m instances.
Patients have also been accessing information on their medical records online, viewing GP test results 270,000 times and letters about their care 260,000 times since April, the period when all practices were required to make Summary Care Records available to patients.
Online GP appointments
GP Dr Masood Nazir, clinical lead for NHS England’s Patient Online programme, said the increasing use of technology is to the great benefit of patients.
He said: ‘As the workload of GP practices grows, online services not only reduce the administrative burden for practices who are embracing them but the sharing of information is also shown to increase patient satisfaction, while delivering real benefits and convenience to patients.’
Ms Bryant called on practices to use new guidance for Patient Online to offer more services to more patients ‘as soon as possible’.
She said: ‘We need to go further and faster – more patients, accessing more services and being able to view more information about their health and care.
‘This updated guidance and resource should give practices and their local partners all the information they need to be able to capitalise on the opportunities that technology presents to improve services for patients and increase the efficiency of their practices.’