Digital health services overview

We are working on a number of digital projects which make accessing health services easier for patients.

You can now book GP appointments online, rearrange appointments and request repeat prescriptions to name a few. There are also online porgrammes and *apps to help you manage your health. These pages explain more about digital health services and how they can help you.

*An app is a computer application (program) that is downloaded by a smartphone user to their mobile phone. Apps can be easily accessed from a smartphone, tablet or computer by clicking or tapping the app symbol which will open the program.

All digital health services are safe and secure and comply with NHS data protection laws.

What are digital health services?

These are NHS services you can access by using the internet with a smartphone, tablet or computer to help manage your health and appointments.

There are currently two main digital health services you can use:

GP online is available to everyone in NW London – this programme allows you to book GP appointments online, request repeat prescriptions and access your health records. More information about registering for this service can be found here.

The Health Help Now app is currently available in Brent and Harrow and it will soon be available to all residents across NW London. It helps you find the right health services, medical advice and information from trusted sources.

We are also running a digital citizen education programme to teach people more about The benefits of using the internet to help manage their appointments and contact health professionals online.

Future projects

Following the recent success of Health Help Now and GP online we are continually seeking new ways to make health easier to access through digital technology. Here are three initiatives we hope to launch in NW London soon:

  • Online consultations

This summer we will be trailing online consultations, (contacting your GP online). The two pilots starting in late July will look at two different approved systems that are already being used by the NHS in other parts of the country. A third pilot will look at video consultations later in the year.

Rather than calling the practice for an appointment, patients can fill in an online form on the practice website and submit it whenever they like.The online form will go through the questions a doctor would ask during a consultation. Patients have the opportunity to write and add all the details about your symptoms and how they feel. In doing this at home patients will also have time to think about these questions and fill them in in their own time, not be rushed in a short GP consultation. All forms will be reviewed by a GP and patients contacted with advice or an appointment within one working day.

Trials elsewhere in the country have shown that patients save time calling the surgery and in a lot of cases their concerns can be answered without the need to visit the surgery at all. Patients will also be able to request repeat prescriptions, private refferals and sick notes. The online form does not replace the option to call or pop-in to the surgery, it is an edition. Patients do not need to visit their GP practice to register to use the service, they can simply go online.

Focus groups were held with members of the public back in January to help shape these pilots.

  • Social isolation project

We want to use digital technology to help people who are socially isolated due to physical, mental health and occupational reasons. We are working with Imperial College Health Partners to find out the challenges people who are socially isolated face and understand what would help them become less socially isolated. This project is being trialled in Brent and progress updates will be added here in due course.

What if I don’t have a smartphone, computer or access to the internet?

If you don’t have a smartphone or access to the internet, you will still receive the same high standard of health care you always have.

If you choose not to use digital health services you can continue to manage your health in the way you normally do, for example booking, cancelling or changing GP appointments face- to- face in your GP surgery or via the telephone. You will still have full access to the health services, help and information you regularly use.

Digital health services simply make it easier for patients to manage their health more conveniently and faster using smartphone technology and the internet.

What other health apps can be trusted?

We recommend that a good starting point to find trusted health related apps is NHS Digital Apps Library. This library has a selection of digital apps and tools which meet the high NHS standard of quality, safety and effectiveness.

On each tool, look for the blue tick or blue circle icons. The blue tick shows that the app is ‘NHS Approved’ which means there is clinical evidence to show that it meets its clinical outcomes. The blue circle shows that the app is ‘Being Tested in the NHS’ which means that they are part of an NHS programme that is monitoring and gathering evidence.

Each tool in the library has gone through extensive technical assessment. The developers and vendors of each tool have also confirmed that their development complies with the Data Protection Act, through to collecting personal data and other key areas.

To find out more about digital projects in NW London please contact the digital citizen and innovation team by email: Digitalcitizen.nwl@nhs.net.