Digital Access: Getting the help you need from wherever you are
More and more of our lives are being lived online. Even before the pandemic introduced us to Zoom calls and video chats, the number of people using the internet for everyday tasks surged.
By February of 2020, 96% of all households in this country had internet access, up from just 57% when such records began in 2006.
At the same time, 92% of us said we had recently or regularly used the internet. 87% of people had shopped online, and 76% of us used the internet to log in to our bank accounts and pay our bills.
Before the pandemic saw increased use of remote or digital technology to avoid unnecessary face-to-face contact, the NHS had been investing in digital technologies to improve patient services.
Previous studies, including our own research into building new websites for patients last year, showed that some NHS digital services were underused or that awareness was not as high as it could be.
This was a driving force behind how we have developed our new websites, in partnership with the other practices in our network and our neighbouring PCN, and producing information, guides and resources that can help patients make the most of the digital options available to them.
Before a run-through of the two most important digital tools we use at JHP, a quick note: Digital tools in the NHS were never intended to replace face-to-face contact or other more traditional methods. They are designed to add to patients’ options and offer convenience and easy access for those who are happy to use them.
We introduced Salvie in June 2020, becoming Newcastle’s first ‘digital-first’ GP practice.
At JHP, we have always been forward-thinking and keen to use new technologies as solutions to existing problems. in the early months of the pandemic, the immediate problem was reducing the risk of infection through face-to-face contact, and Salvie allowed us to do that.
But pre-covid, we were looking for solutions to make it better, easier and more efficient for patients to be able to consult with their Doctors and get the outcomes they needed. This too was solved by introducing Salvie.
The digital-first model gave patients the ability to start a consultation in their own time and words, and for the conversation to be continued flexibly in a manner and method that worked for them.
We soon found – and continue to find – that the majority of patients’ issues can be solved without needing a face-to-face appointment.
Patients get easy access and fast solutions. And it frees up our capacity so when someone does need to be seen in person, we are usually able to see them within 24 hours.
How it works
With Salvie – formerly AskMyGP – you are in control.
Follow the Salvie links throughout the site, and choose which doctor you want to send your message to, and how and when you want them to reply. All messages and safe and secure.
The system is:
- Quick – get a response usually within a couple of hours, and a same-day appointment if needed.
- Personalised – choose a specific Doctor, how and when you want to hear back
- Send a message in your own time, we’ll reply when the practice is next open.
- Immediate – no paperwork; sign up and start using it straight away.
This guide video explains more:
Patients can also visit our Salvie FAQ section to find out more.
The NHS App
Another digital tool that has seen significant growth in recent years is the NHS App. One hundred per cent owned by the NHS, the app is free to use and can be downloaded to your smartphone or tablet.
What can I do with the NHS App?
A lot. You can do all the basics you would expect, such as search for, book, or cancel appointments at your GP practice.
If you regularly take medication, you will see your prescriptions in the app. When it is time to reorder, you can do it right there and then and even choose to pick up your medication from a pharmacy of your choice.
Resources: Getting started with the NHS App
Click or tap on the images below to find our resource guides on getting and using the NHS App.
Because the app links to our clinical systems, you will also see your medical history there. That’s medicines you’ve been prescribed, previous consultations, and any allergies or adverse reactions you’ve had before.
Records of your covid vaccinations are also in the app, along with the function to create a covid pass, which can be required for travel to some countries.
If you have symptoms you want to check or conditions or treatments you want to find out more about, you can. The app puts NHS 111 in your hand.
You can also use the app to set various preferences, including your organ donation decision and your data sharing preferences.
Why use the NHS App?
For many, it provides quicker and easier to their GP practice and medical records. You can use it at any time. The link into practices’ clinical systems also means you don’t need to wait for your practice to be open.
It makes access flexible and convenient and reduces unnecessary calls for patients and practices. That means patients who use the app can get what they need quickly, and GP staff are freed up to carry out other essential tasks.
How do I get the NHS App?
You can download it free from the Apple App Store and on Google Play for Android users.