Patients in England have been given easier access to the NHS e-referral service (e-RS) after it was integrated into the NHS app in a move designed to reduce the number of hospital and clinic appointments that are missed.
NHS Digital said GPs can email appointment booking details for the e-RS straight to patients with an NHS login which takes people to health and social care apps and websites.
NHS Digital said the new connectivity will prevent GPs “having to print and post booking instructions” and pointed to research showing the rate of no-shows for appointments is reduced by half when patients book their own appointments.
“We’ve put the power back into patients’ hands, giving them another digital route to book and manage their own hospital appointments,” said Martin O’Keeffe, senior clinical lead at NHS Digital.
“The NHS app will provide an easy, quick and secure way to do this on the move, meaning many patients won’t have to wait for their referral details in the post before they book their first appointment.
“The NHS app currently has over two million verified users. With 40 per cent of e-RS appointments currently being booked by practice staff, this provides a powerful push for primary care to introduce their patients to the benefits of the NHS app and save themselves and the wider NHS both time and money.”
Mr O’Keeffe said the integration of the e-RS into the app will “make the whole process smoother and simpler for everyone involved and ultimately will improve patient care.”
“This is part of a series of improvements that are being made to the NHS e-Referral service designed to help clinicians and patients,” he added.