2 in 3 patients say they would use video-calling or email to contact their GP.
The report calls on NHS England, NHS Digital and healthcare providers to utilise the feedback from over 1,000 patients to consider new ways of delivering primary care services using technology.
Following the publication of the NHS Long Term plan last week, that indicates ‘patients will be able to access virtual services alongside face-to-face services via a computer or smart phone’, Healthwatch Enfield’s research provides evidence that there is an opportunity to change the approach to primary care services delivery with a great potential to ease the burden.
However, the evidence base also illustrates differences in patient’s appetite to use technology. Dependent upon age, ethnicity and socio-economic status, Healthwatch Enfield’s report makes it clear that consideration will need to be given to ensure the introduction of new technological solutions does not widen the health inequality gap by making the access easier only for those who can afford the right equipment or who are computer literate.
There is also learning to be gained from the implementation of existing digital solutions, such as GP online services, that currently offer an ability to book appointments or order repeat prescriptions online.
Healthwatch Enfield asks relevant organisations to take individual differences into account and involve patients in co-designing any systems being considered now and as part of the implementation of NHS Long Term plan, not only giving patients ownership but ensuring any solutions are right the first time.
"This is an extremely useful report showing a positive picture of the desire of patients to embrace digital services to improve care.
The report also underlines the absolute importance of making sure no one is left behind by technological change and making sure that digital services made available to patients are simple, accessible, connected and safe.
It is great to see Healthwatch playing such a proactive role in seeking the views and opinions of the public on this important topic.”