The NHS Long Term Plan and five–year framework for GP contract reform mean that general practice sits right at the heart of Integrated Care Systems (ICS) and local Strategic Transformation Partnerships (STPs).  

These networks mean new ways of working are inevitable, and technology is being rapidly embraced for the benefit of both practices and patients. 

Spearheading the NHS digital revolution is the NHS App – created by NHSX, which was launched in April 2019. 

In his first blog post as CEO of NHSX, Matthew Gould refers to the app as a ‘platform for innovation’. He talks about not wanting the app to be ‘all singing and all-dancing’, and about keeping the app purposely thin, and letting others use it to ‘come up with brilliant features on top.’ 

At Substrakt Health, we are one of just three providers chosen to integrate our own features so that they can be accessed via the NHS App. 

APIs – which allow a patient’s data to move safely from a GP system to a smartphone have been built by NHSX, and exposed so that we are able to integrate our apps to meet varying user need. Our apps will simply plug in, safely let people access their own data and deliver a different user journey. 

And as one of the innovators chosen by NHSX to integrate our services, it’s an exciting time for us at Substrakt Health, as we gear up to feed into the app’s ecosystem in the coming weeks. 

Our first phase of integrated technology will allow users to request fit notes, query prescriptions, follow-up on referrals and send general enquiries into their GP practice directly from the NHS App. Patients will also be able to update their personal details, and sign up to join patient participant groups at their practice.

We’ll be integrating a vast range of our services, all designed to drive efficiencies in practices, so over time we’ll be adding lots more functionality, including: 

Automatic triaging – a tool which cuts administration time by taking patients through a set of questions before any interaction with the practice. It then provides them with a course of action based on a verified clinically based decision pathway.  

Automated triage cuts unnecessary appointments where appropriate, and signposts the patient to self-care, or to other services within the primary care network. If appropriate, it will send the online consultation to the practice for action. 

Form-based triage, which gathers patient information prior to appointments, cutting clinician time during the session and enabling GPs to have more focused interactions with patients.  

Tailored booking technology which will ensure patients book appointments with the appropriate professional for their needs, and will enable the ability to book slots at GP practices, or with other appropriate services offered across primary, community and social care providers as part of Primary Care Networks, ICSs and STPs.  

Most patient facing services don’t currently offer the ability to book into a service hosted outside of a patient’s registered GP Practice, so by allowing a practice to link to appointments in other GP systems across their PCN or ICS, a patient can self-navigate to the right service without burdening the practice or service provider.  

Digital management and care plans will also be accessible via the app, offering a much more efficient way for doctors to remotely monitor patients with specific or long-term conditions. Using our technology, GPs will be able to create digital plans which are updated by patients via the app. They can then use the information to determine the best approach to manage the patient’s specific condition, reducing the manual effort usually needed and saving each GP around three hours each week. 

Other services which we’re preparing to be available from Substrakt Health via the NHS app over the coming months include online video consultation technology, an online administration request functionality and a tool that provides a patient content feed automatically filtered by their specific health conditions and medications, so they get tailored information to help them manage their own care better. 

Our services will offer so many benefits to practices, but from a patient perspective this technology will improve access to care and empower patients to take control of their own health. For them there will be no need to join call queues to book appointments or to request prescriptions. It will all just be there – in the palm of their hand, and we’re excited to be a part of it. 

By Ash Vora, Managing Director, Substrakt Health

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