Mark’s adventures with NHS online services

There are more services than ever that have an online offer, and this includes the NHS.
Mark, who manages the Digital Enablement Team, will introduce you to how he uses NHS online services.
Did you know there are a total of 45 apps and e-health services available through NHS login, including e-referral services, Covid-19 support and advice, maternity and child health services, online pharmacies, and services to monitor and improve health and well-being, just to name a few?

The NHS App: what you need to know, getting started

I heard my local GP practice were able to facilitate telephone consultations, which really appealed to me. I wanted a repeat prescription for my hay fever, so didn’t really need a face-to-face doctor’s appointment, so I jumped at the chance.

I didn’t need to take any time off work, didn’t need to find a place to park, and I didn’t need to sit in the GP reception waiting for the doctor.

Besides all my reasons, it also helps my local GP practice to manage their appointments better, giving their patients increasing choice and convenience, whilst saving both time and money.

Things have certainly moved on, with so many options available to us. Below are just a couple of recent examples of how I have used some of our NHS Online services.

NHS Health A to Z

The internet is truly a wonderful thing, full of useful and useless information. When it comes to your health and well-being you want ‘trusted’ information, so who better to get you that information?

I look at other sites for information, just as a double check, and it doesn’t stop me making further enquiries to our health professionals. What is does for me is keeping me in control and informed, which is so important. Having that information also lets me articulate myself effectively to the doctor when appropriate.

I used Health A to Z to see what Health A to Z says about cracked ribs, after an incident whilst cycling. This meant that I did not need to go to A&E, nor engage with NHS 111 services.

I read the advice on their page and did everything it suggested. Eight weeks on and I’m back cycling again.

NHS app when it is first opened

GP Practice Online Services

Following on from having suspected cracked ribs, I felt I was not recovering as quickly as I would have liked, so I contacted my GP by email. I was told you did everything right and give it a couple more weeks of recover.

Hulme Hall Medical Group, my GP practice, are supporting their patients using fully integrated hybrid approach. I can choose to contact them in the traditional way and/or go full-on digital.

In the last couple of months, I used their online services four times:

  • To book a telephone consultation for my ribs
  • To book a blood test, a Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test to be specific
  • To book my free Flu Jab
  • To book my Covid-19 booster jab

Be sure to check out how your GP can support you online. From the research I have done, some are more advanced than others unfortunately.

NHS App Appointment screen

NHS App

So far, I’ve only introduced you to some of the not so new services, so, let me introduce you to the NHS App.

Just for clarity, I am not referring to the NHS COVID-19 App that is used for track and trace, and for entering test results.

If truth be known, the primary reason I downloaded the NHS App was so I could access my COVID Pass.

The NHS APP is a super app because it covers lots of bases, in a very succinct way.

As you should expect, the app is available at both the iOS App Store and Google Play Store. If you put the apps side by side, they are identical in both form and function.

They have done an excellent job at packing it all in, without it feeling cluttered, but the real test is understanding how the app performs once you turn the screen reader on!

We tested the NHS App extensively using VoiceOver for iOS and TalkBack for Android.

The app was almost fully compatible with both screen readers. The only element that is not properly labelled, in the iOS app,  is the button to add your Covid pass to your Apple Wallet (more on that feature below).

Covid pass

App features

  • NHS COVID Pass: This gives you a code which you may need to show in certain venues in the UK, and/or when travelling abroad. You can also email, print, and view your records. The Pass gives information on your dose and date, plus any COVID test you have completed, showing the date/time and result(s) of test(s). A nice little touch on iOS is that you can add your pass into your Apple Wallet.
  • Advice: Currently the app gives you access to three sources of information: Advice about coronavirus (COVID-19), Search for Conditions and Treatments (Health A to Z) and access to the NHS 111 online service.
  • Appointments: I have not been able to book GP appointments, nor had the need to book a hospital appointment. I believe this feature will become available in time. What you do get access to are the details of your past appointments. It tells you the time and date of your appointments, the appointment type, e.g., ‘bloods’, the name of the practitioner and the location of treatment.
  • Prescriptions: With this feature, you can view your repeat prescriptions and history too. You do need to nominate your preferred Pharmacy, which is a straightforward process.
  • Your Health: This section has lots going on. This is where you can view your current COVID Pass, if it has expired you can generate a new one here too. You can check your COVID-19 vaccine record, plus dive into your GP health records. My records show medicines that were prescribed back in 2005, right up to present day. If you have any allergies and adverse reactions to medicines, they will also be listed here too.
  • Organ Donation: Some people find this subject a little squeamish, which is fair enough. I’ve opted in to donate all my organs. For the squeamish out there, that means all my organs and tissue.

Final Thoughts

In a nutshell, the app scores well in both useability and accessibility and I would most definitely recommend it, alongside other NHS Services.

I truly believe, when I’m using these services, I’m doing my bit in helping the NHS to manage the country’s health and wellbeing.

Links to some of the many NHS Online Services and other places for support

NHS 111 Online Service: Get medical help – NHS 111

NHS Health A to Z: Health A to Z – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

NHS Health APPs: NHS Apps Library – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Registering with a GP Surgery: How to register with a GP surgery – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Patient Info

Recap Health

MyWay Digital Health

If you are visually impaired and live in Greater Manchester, and would like support to get online to access the services outlined in this blog, you can get in touch with our Digital Enablement Team by calling 0300 222 5555 or emailing info@henshaws.org.uk.

You can also check out our Knowledge Village, which contains blogs, videos and eBooks about using technology if you are visually impaired, and much more.

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