Lancashire's online GP appointment app proving a great success

An app aimed at freeing-up doctors' time and save the NHS up to £153m has been hailed a success by Lancashire GP surgeries.

Monday, 1st October 2018, 9:25 pm
Updated Monday, 1st October 2018, 10:32 pm
Patients can book in with their GP using an online app

NHS England has spent £800,000 on the myGP app by London-based health tech company iPlato, rolling out the technology in Lancashire in phases since last year.

It first became operational in Morecambe Bay practices last year, Blackpool practices joined in May, and a 12-month trial has now started in Chorley and South Ribble, Greater Preston, East Lancashire and West Lancashire.

MyGP allows patients to register remotely using their date of birth and mobile number.

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Following a quick authentication process, patients are able to make and cancel appointments, use a secure and instant messaging service, book medication reminders and use self care support tools to monitor weight and blood pressure.

Library House Surgery in Chorley went live with the MyGP app in mid-August and sent out SMS text invites to more than 4,000 patients, asking them to book a flu vaccination appointment. It was hoped the scheme would reduce the number of phone calls into the surgery.

Ruth Deaves, reception manager at the surgery, said: “Our team has noticed that despite it being flu season which is normally an exceptionally busy time, the volume of calls into the surgery has not increased significantly. We are also noticing when we look at our appointment book that a large proportion of the booked flu appointments have been booked online.”

There are a total of 98 practices currently enabled to use the MyGP app in Lancashire and South Cumbria, reaching more than 960,000 patients.

The app has already been downloaded by more than 36,000 patients from both the Google Play Store and Apple IOS store and it can be used on both smartphone and tablets, requiring only a mobile number to sign up.

There were almost 8,000 downloads within the first two weeks of September, representing an average of 3.78 per cent of the registered population across Healthier Lancashire and South Cumbria, and 5.22 per cent of those who have a mobile number registered with their practice.

Since the beginning of September, more than 2,500 appointments across Lancashire have been booked using the app and more than 1,000 have been cancelled, releasing appointments in general practice for other people to use. According to iPlato, the system could potentially save the NHS £153 million if it is deployed across England.

A spokesman for the company said: “The logic behind preGP (the wider system behind MyGP) is quite simple. Unlike other systems, preGP is designed to start working once a patient books a GP appointment. Then based on local services, conditions and needs, preGP will signpost the patient to the right care at the right time. Alternative services are decided by the Clinical Commissioning Group and customised at the practice level. These can be nurse appointments, telephone consultations, educational information (e.g. when a sick note is needed), local pharmacists, mental health services etc.”

The MyGP app is starting to be deployed to deliver online consultations, so people will be signposted to details of other services such as pharmacy, physiotherapy or mental health and wellbeing services.

‘This will be a massive boost to people’

Penwortham-based Galloway’s Society for the Blind is developing an app for the smart speaker.

The charity was contacted by AO Jobs, which was looking at understanding accessibility issues on websites.

After a visit by test analyst Peter Gould, he decided to work on a Galloway’s ‘Skill’ for Amazon’s Echo device. Once working, people who have subscribed to the ‘skill’ will be able to receive information from Galloway’s via voice command, including events on Galloway’s calendar, information on conditions, and a talking newspaper.

Emma Russ of Galloway’s, said: “It will be great to have a Galloway’s Skill, it will be a massive boost to people.

“Technology is such a big part of our world and it enables independence.

“We’re at the test stage at the moment, and are looking for more people to come forward and get involved in that process.”

Anyone who has an email address linked to an Amazon Echo device can take part. Contact Galloways for more information on 01772 744148.