OPINION: Discover the benefits of the NHS app - Karen Weaver, Harrogate and District Community Action

In a world that is becoming more digital by the day, it can be hard to navigate the myriad of opportunities to communicate via your phone, tablet or PC.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 12th May 2022, 5:02 pm

The phrase ‘there’s an app for that’ was coined by Apple back in 2009 and since then its feels like developers have created a bamboozling number of apps to manage every element of your life.

For the uninitiated ‘app’ is short for application; a type of program that you can download to your tablet or smartphone.

One app that is going to be increasingly important is the NHS app which is part of the health service’s push to embrace digital in all areas.

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The app has been around since 2018 but Covid brought it to the forefront of people’s minds given the limits to accessing your GP, the advent of the NHS Covid pass (which is a separate app) and the need to prove your vaccination record at various venues or for travel.

The app aims to take the pressure off GP surgeries, reducing the amount of incoming calls and making it easier for people to cancel appointments, reducing the number of no-shows.

It has been developed to make it easier for people to access their GP.

Patients can book certain routine appointments, order repeat prescriptions and view their medical records.

Other benefits to the free app include an online symptom checking and triage service via NHS 111 and setting your organ donation preferences.

Whilst for many it is hard to imagine being without a smart phone for even half an hour, of course, not everyone has access to the technology or is digitally inclined.

As more people make use of the app this should free up resources to support those who don’t have a smart phone or email address, which are the basic requirements to be able to use the app, as well as being registered with a GP.

Some have a concern about the security surrounding apps like this, given the sensitive data it is using.

Without going into too much detail about ‘cryptographic protocol’, the NHS app uses some of the most sophisticated software to ensure that your data is secure within the app.

Given the scale of the NHS it is unsurprising to know that digital uptake across the health service is unequal.

Whilst some GP practices have their own apps for booking appointments, you still have to register in person and the majority of appointments are still booked over the phone.

As more and more people discover the benefits of the NHS app hopefully take up by both patients and services will become more consistent.

The NHS recognises that the voluntary and community organisations have strong links into our communities and have enlisted charities such as HADCA to play a part in rolling out the NHS app.

Hence this month we’re sharing information about the benefits of using it and in doing so promoting accessible healthcare and offering to help those who might struggle with the technology.

The local GP practices are especially keen to see more diverse groups access the app including older people and those with disabilities.

For more info on the NHS app you can visit:

https://hadca.org.uk/news/help-set-and-use-your-free-nhs-app.

In addition our HELP team here at HADCA can provide local people with help and advice about how to download the app, as well as helping with any other aspects of people getting on line, or increasing their level of digital skills.

Call 01423 813090 or email [email protected]