The new app, Ask NHS, has now launched in our area. It is free to download on any mobile device and provides patients with a symptom checker, self-care advice and access to book the most appropriate GP appointment.
Using the app can help patients take more control of their health. A virtual healthcare assistant, Olivia, asks a series of questions to assess a patient’s symptoms in a clinically safe way. Olivia will then recommend the most appropriate care for them. This might be self-care advice via www.nhs.uk, a GP appointment, GP call back or direct them to urgent or emergency care.
For patients who need to see a GP, the app can prioritise patients into the most appropriate appointment slots based on their needs. Patients can directly book an urgent or routine appointment without having to call the practice.
The first practice to go-live with the app is the Swan Practice in Buckingham. Fiona Walker, practice operations manager, is a great fan. “We recognise our major challenge is handling the increase in demand. Ask NHS does a great evaluation of the patient’s needs; do they need to see a doctor? If they do, then they’ll be offered an appointment but, if they don’t, they’ll be directed elsewhere.”
Since mid-December the practice has had over 480 patients download and register on the app and over 20 patients have booked appointments. “The GPs like Ask NHS as they’ve already got a detailed history of the patient they’re seeing from the app’s triage process. They know that the patient is with them because they really needed an appointment.”
More practices will be live with Ask NHS over the coming weeks and months, providing Buckinghamshire residents with easy to access, secure and confidential healthcare support.
The Ask NHS app is available on both iOS and Android phones and smart devices. It’s free to download from the App Store (Apple devices) or Google Play (Android devices). Patients will receive an invitation from their practice to download the App once the practice is live with Ask NHS.