– Quintus Liu, 27 September 2018
Lately it seems like everyone in the industry is talking about the NHS App. Some of our customers have even asked us “what’s the difference between Healthera and the NHS App?”
There seems to be a lot of different ideas as to what it can and can’t do. Today I’m happy to give my thoughts on this topic matter. Healthera is working closely with NHS Digital and NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups, so naturally we know just enough on the NHS App to share our thoughts on what the NHS App means for patients and pharmacies.
What it is:
The NHS App is the NHS’s own rendition of GP patient services, offering similar features as apps built by GP system suppliers over the last 5 years. The main focus will be on GP appointment booking, followed by checking GP records on the go.
The NHS App is meant to be a platform for healthcare apps. While developing the app, NHS Digital constantly consulted with healthcare software providers like ourselves. The NHS knows that there isn’t a single app that can solve all our problems; instead, the NHS is working with the industry to build a much bigger vision for the nation. It will continue developing the NHS Apps Library (on which Healthera is listed) and introduce the Apps Library onto the NHS App, recommending a host of tested and proven digital healthcare solutions to patients.
The NHS App is meant to raise the bar for patient apps going forward; it’s a showcase of what could be achieved in a short period of time, and a call to action for the industry to innovate and provide better patient experiences.
What it is not:
The NHS App is not a pharmacy app. While it does allow patients to request repeat prescriptions with their GP, it doesn’t offer pharmacies the ability to communicate with their patients, notify patients when their medicines are ready to collect (thus completing the medicine journey), or bring out the pharmacy’s brand and clinical services. It’s also not possible to secure patient EPS nominations through the NHS App, meaning it would not be a tool to retain and gain patients. Just an analogy – just about every hotel has a Google map listing, but only specialised hotel platforms like Booking.com can bring actual brand recognition, revenue, and customer loyalty.
The NHS App is not going to affect pharmacies and patients using Healthera; that’s the opposite of what the NHS wants to achieve with initiatives like the NHS Apps Library. Instead, NHS is encouraging all forms of innovative digital engagements between healthcare providers and patients. It’s worth remembering that only 2% of the UK’s patient population uses GP apps built by system suppliers, while a vast majority still deal with their prescriptions completely manually. There is still great opportunity to bring more patients into the digital age through community pharmacies equipped with Healthera.
The NHS App is not going to be everywhere at once. The decision to support the NHS App is still going to be down to the individual Clinical Commissioning Group and GP surgeries. Firstly, the NHS App needs to gain market share from the current GP apps. A quick search on the App Store shows numerous apps that have the “NHS” logo in their icon. It takes time for any digital solution to take off. Apparently, even our 70-year-old pioneering health system have to compete for “app store optimisation” – talk about innovation!
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