Jeremy Hunt calls for NHS to go digital

Patients should be able to access their medical records via an app, health secretary says

Jeremy Hunt has called for the NHS to deliver digital services nationwide.

Speaking at the Health and Care Innovation Expo in Manchester yesterday, the health secretary said that by the end of 2018 every patient in England should be able to access their medical records and book an appointment with a GP through an app.

Hunt added that every patient should be able to carry out seven online activities including accessing NHS 111, the non-emergency number, finding out their healthcare record, booking a GP appointment, and ordering prescriptions.

Other activities include choosing whether to donate their organs after death, expressing their data sharing preferences and accessing support for managing a long-term condition.

Hunt said: "If the NHS is going to be the safest, highest quality healthcare system in the world we need to do technology better. So today I am setting seven challenges which, if we achieve them, will make the NHS a world-beater in the care of people with long term conditions."

The health secretary also announced the launch of the MyNHS open data challenge, a 100,000 fund for the most creative apps and digital tools to improve services.

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Imelda Redmond, national director of Healthwatch England, said: "The vision set out by the secretary of state directly addresses what patients and the broader public have told Healthwatch they want from a modern NHS, and is a huge step forward in ensuring all of us get the sort of integrated service we have come to expect in many other areas of life."

In July it emerged that 46% of NHS directors are concerned about the government's separate 2020 target for the NHS to go digital. Almost half of the respondents to an OpenText survey said they lack the technology systems or skills necessary to complete the digital transformation in four years.

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