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Found 115 results
  1. Content Article
    Patients in England value the NHS App, but some users say there are limits to the information they can access, or find it difficult to use, according to a new report from the Digital Coalition.  Patients who need help to use the NHS App would value more support materials to enable them to use it independently, according to the report’s findings. But survey respondents were clear that using the NHS App must remain the patient’s choice, and face-to-face services must be retained. The report is based on findings from a survey run by The Patient Coalition for AI, Data and Digital Tech in Health (also known as the Digital Coalition). More than 600 people from across England completed the survey.
  2. Content Article
    The use of patient portals to send messages to healthcare teams is increasing. This JAMA Network Open cross-sectional study of nearly 40,000 US patients aimed to find out whether there are differences in how care teams respond to messages from Asian, Black and Hispanic patients compared with similar White patients. The authors found that messages asking for medical advice sent by patients who belong to minoritised racial and ethnic groups were less likely to receive a response from doctors and more likely to receive a response from registered nurses. This suggests these patients receive lower prioritisation during triaging. The differences observed were similar among Asian, Black and Hispanic patients.
  3. Content Article
    This cohort study examined whether sociodemographic characteristics affected patient access to and use of patient health care portals during the Covid-19 pandemic. The authors found significant disparities in portal use by sex, age, multimorbidity and health literacy were found. While disparities by sex and age decreased and were no longer statistically significant by 2021, disparities by multimorbidity remained consistent throughout the pandemic and disparities by health literacy were exacerbated.
  4. Content Article
    This study in BMJ Open aimed to describe the experiences and opinions of GPs in England about patients having access to their full online GP health records. 400 registered GPs in England completed an online survey. The results revealed some key findings: 91% GPs believed a majority of patients would worry more. 85% said they though patients would find their GP records more confusing than helpful. 60% believed a majority of patients would find significant errors in their records. 70% believed patients would better remember their care plan. 60% said patients would feel more in control of their care. 89% believed they will/already spend more time addressing patients’ questions outside of consultations. 81% said that consultations will/already take significantly longer. 72% said they will be/already are less candid in their documentation after online records access. 62% believed patients having access to their records would increase their litigation.
  5. News Article
    Next week’s launch of the ‘Wayfinder’ waiting time information service on the NHS App will give patients “disingenuous” and “misleading” information about how long they can expect to wait for care, senior figures close to the project have warned. Briefing documents seen by HSJ show the figure displayed to patients will be a mean average of wait times taken from the Waiting List Minimum Data Set and the My Planned Care site. However, it was originally intended that the metric displayed would be the time waited by 92% of relevant patients. This is more commonly known as the “9 out of 10” measure. Mean waits are likely to be about “half the typical waiting time” measured under the 9 out of 10 metric, according to the waiting list experts consulted by HSJ. Ahead of The Wayfinder service’s launch on Tuesday, NHS trusts and integrated care boards have been sent comprehensive information on how to publicise it, including a “lines to take” briefing in case of media inquiries. This mentions the use of an “average” time but does not provider any justification for this approach. HSJ’s source said the mean average metric was “the worst one to choose” as it would be providing patients with “disingenuous” information that will leave them disappointed. They added that the 92nd percentile metric would be a “far more realistic” measure “for a greater number of people”. They concluded that “using an average” would create false expectations “because in reality nobody will be seen in the amount of time it is saying on the app.” Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 26 January 2024
  6. News Article
    “What if I told you one of the strongest choices you could make was the choice to ask for help?” says a young, twentysomething woman in a red sweater, before recommending that viewers seek out counselling. This advert, promoted on Instagram and other social media platforms, is just one of many campaigns created by the California-based company BetterHelp, which offers to connect users with online therapists. The need for sophisticated digital alternatives to conventional face-to-face therapy has been well established in recent years. If we go by the latest data for NHS talking therapy services, 1.76 million people were referred for treatment in 2022-23, while 1.22 million actually started working with a therapist in person. While companies like BetterHelp are hoping to address some of the barriers that prevent people from seeking therapy, such as a dearth of trained practitioners in their area, or finding a therapist they can relate to, there is a concerning side to many of these platforms. Namely, what happens to the considerable amounts of deeply sensitive data they gather in the process? Moves are now under way in the UK to look at regulating these apps, and awareness of potential harm is growing. Last year, the UK’s regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), began a three-year project, funded by the charity Wellcome, to explore how best to regulate digital mental health tools in the UK, as well as working with international partners to help drive consensus in digital mental health regulations globally. Holly Coole, senior manager for digital mental health at the MHRA, explains that while data privacy is important, the main focus of the project is to achieve a consensus on the minimum standards for safety for these tools. “We are more focused on the efficacy and safety of these products because that’s our role as a regulator, to make sure that patient safety is at the forefront of any device that is classed as a medical device,” she says. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 4 February 2024
  7. News Article
    New digital prescriptions mean NHS App users in England can now collect medication from a pharmacy without having to visit a GP or health centre. The usual paper slip given by doctors has been replaced by an in-app barcode, which can be scanned at any pharmacy. Users can already request repeat prescriptions on the app - and every digital order fulfilled will save the GP three minutes, NHS Digital says. It comes after a trial last year, involving more than a million users. Patients can use the app to check what medicines they have been prescribed, and when. Anyone who has a nominated pharmacy can continue to collect medication without a paper prescription or barcode, as the details are sent to their pharmacy electronically. Read full story Source: BBC News, 30 January 2024
  8. Content Article
    This cross-sectional study in JAMIA Open aimed to identify concerns, barriers and facilitators impacting the use of patient portals by older patients, as well as desired features in future updates. The authors held two focus group discussions culminating in an anonymous survey completed by women who were 65 years and older receiving urogynaecology care in Northwest Ohio. The authors concluded that the lack of age-aligned medical access software and products may lead to worsening digital exclusion and disparities in healthcare. Portal application developers and healthcare systems must advance efforts that consider the needs of those who are older when designing patient portals.
  9. Content Article
    Digital health inequality, observed as differential utilisation of digital tools between population groups, has not previously been quantified in the NHS. But recent developments in universal digital health interventions, including a national smartphone app and online primary care services, allow measurement of digital inequality across a nation. This study in BMJ Health & Care Informatics aimed to measure population factors associated with digital utilisation across 6356 primary care providers serving the population of England. The authors concluded that the study results are concerning for technologically driven widening of healthcare inequalities. They highlight the need for targeted incentives to digital in order to prevent digital disparity from becoming health outcomes disparity.
  10. Content Article
    Download the free Let’s Talk Clots patient information app from Thrombosis UK, and help reduce your risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism in hospital.
  11. News Article
    Millions of patients will be handed the power to view their own medical records and test results online after the NHS overruled opposition from the doctors’ union. From 1 November every GP surgery in England will be contractually obliged to give all patients over the age of 16 access to their health information on their phones. It means patients will no longer have to ring up their surgery or book a GP appointment to get details of blood test results, medications and repeat prescriptions, but instead they can access them by logging in to the NHS app. The British Medical Association (BMA) had threatened to go to court over the plans, arguing that granting people access to their records would add to GP workloads and could put patients at risk. However, Jacob Lant, the chief executive of the charity umbrella group National Voices, said: “Ensuring everyone has access to their own medical records through the NHS app is an important step in building a more equal partnership between patients and clinicians. “It gives people much easier access to the information they need to prepare for appointments, and having quick access to test results can help patients manage their conditions better. Using technology in this way has the potential to help millions, and free up capacity of staff to help those who are less able to make use of digital services.” Read full story (paywalled) Source: The Times, 31 October 2023
  12. News Article
    Thousands of Britons have avoided being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes thanks to an NHS programme aimed at early intervention. The Diabetes Prevention Programme identifies people at risk of developing the condition and gives them a nine-month plan to change their lifestyles. Researchers at the University of Manchester found that the programme resulted in 18,000 fewer people in England being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes between 2018 and 2019 — a 7% reduction. It focuses on eating and exercise habits and enables participants to join peer support groups and receive instruction from health coaches. The programme also offers a digital service that helps participants monitor their progress using wearable technology and mobile phone apps. Emma McManus, a research fellow at the university, said that diabetes was a “growing problem” for the country. The NHS spends about 10 per cent of its annual budget on treating it. “However, if you change your lifestyle, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes reduces,” she said. “Our research has shown that the programme has been successful in reducing the number of new cases of diabetes.” Emma Elvin, a senior clinical adviser at Diabetes UK, said: “This research adds to the evidence that many type 2 diabetes cases can be delayed or prevented with the right support and further highlights how the NHS diabetes prevention programme can be a real turning point for people at risk of type 2 diabetes.” Read full story (paywalled) Source: The Times, 28 March 2022
  13. News Article
    A new pregnancy screening tool cuts the risk of baby loss among women from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds to the same level as white women, research suggests. The app calculates a woman's individual risk of pregnancy problems. In a study of 20,000 pregnant women, baby death rates in ethnic groups were three times lower than normal when the tool was used. Experts say the new approach can help reduce health inequalities. The screening tool is already in use at St George's Hospital in London and is being tried out at three other maternity units in England, with hopes it could be rolled out to 20 centres within two years. Researchers from Tommy's National Centre for Maternity Improvement, led by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives, developed the new tool. Professor Basky Thilaganathan, who led the research team at St George's Hospital, said the new approach could "almost eliminate a large source of the healthcare inequality facing black, Asian and minority ethnic pregnant women". "We can personalise care for you and reduce the chances of having a small baby, pre-eclampsia and losing your baby," he said. The current system of a tick-box checklist to assess pregnancy risk has been around for 70 years, and is limited. The new digital tool, which uses an algorithm to calculate a woman's personal risk, can detect high-risk women more accurately and prevent complications in pregnancy, the researchers say. Both pregnant women and maternity staff can upload information on their pregnancy and how they are feeling to the app during antenatal appointments and at other times. Dr Edward Morris, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said it was "unacceptable" that black, Asian and minority ethnic women faced huge inequalities on maternity outcomes. "The digital tool provides a practical way to support women with personalised care during pregnancy and make informed decisions about birth. Read full story Read Tommy's press release Source: BBC News, 28 February 2022
  14. News Article
    Patients will be able to use the NHS app to shop around for hospitals with the shortest waiting lists in a renewed drive to cut backlogs for routine care. Health bosses agreed yesterday to give patients more choice over where they are treated by next April in an effort to use digital league tables to direct people towards hospitals with the shortest waits. Steve Barclay, the health secretary, wants to give patients “real-time data” on their phones to decide whether to travel further to get quicker treatment for hip replacements, cataract removals and other non-urgent procedures. A government source said: “We don’t need a big bureaucracy to funnel patients towards the hospital which NHS managers decide is best, when, armed with a right to choose and the right information on the app, patients will go where waiting times are lowest.” Read full story (paywalled) Source: The Times (31 August 2022)
  15. News Article
    All patients should be able to choose the hospital with the shortest waiting times, a former health secretary has said. Alan Milburn, the Labour health secretary under Tony Blair from 1999 to 2003, called for urgent reforms and warned that the NHS was “close to breaking point” and “in the worst state I have ever seen”. A record 6.7 million people are now on waiting lists, with the numbers waiting in Accident and Emergency departments for at least 12 hours surging by more than a third in a month. Writing for The Telegraph, Mr Milburn called for urgent reforms to give patients more choice and control while preventing a “tsunami” of chronic diseases fuelled by unhealthy lifestyles. In recent months, ministers have promised that those facing the longest waits will be offered treatment further away and offered travel and accommodation costs, but only around 140 patients were booked in for such surgery by June. Mr Milburn called for the option to be offered to all patients, urging health officials to use the NHS app as a way for people to chose the hospital with the shortest wait. So far, officials have promised to ensure that the app allows patients to check the average waiting time at their local hospital for their condition and compare it with others. Read full story (paywalled) Source: The Telegraph, 17 August 2022
  16. News Article
    Mobile apps to track patients' health are keeping them out of hospital and could cut waiting times, experts have said. It follows a trial of a new app which heart patients are using through their mobile phones. The trial allows clinicians to change treatments quickly and uses video consultations, avoiding unnecessary hospital visits. Rhodri Griffiths is the innovation adoption director at Life Sciences Hub Wales, and is looking for more ways to introduce similar technology. He believes the pandemic accelerated the use and acceptance of digital solutions in healthcare, by patients and clinicians. "We really are looking at a big digital revolution within healthcare and there are an amazing myriad of things coming through," he said. He explained data collected by smartphones and watches can help predict who is likely to have a heart attack. "We can avoid that happening. So prevention is key but it's also looking at how some of this can impact on waiting lists," he said. "So, looking at how theatres are used, which patients can be prioritised? "In social care it's looking at how pain is managed by face recognition." Mr Griffiths said he believed the data collected could also identify wider problems: "It's combining these digital solutions with our genetic information - bringing big data together on a population level we can start spotting trends". Read full story Source: BBC News, 4 August 2022
  17. News Article
    The NHS App will soon be updated with features to help offer people in England more personalised care. It is part of the government's plan for a digital revolution to speed up care and improve access while saving the health service time and money. By March 2023, more users will receive messages from their GP and be able to see their medical records and manage hospital elective-care appointments. By March 2024, the app should offer face-to-face video consultations. The government's ambition is for at least 75% of adults to be using it by March 2024. Currently, less than half - about 28 million - have it on their phone or tablet. The government also wants 90% of NHS trusts to have electronic patient records in place or be processing them by December 2023 and for all social-care providers to adopt a digital social-care record. And patients across the country should be able to complete their hospital pre-assessment checks from home by September 2024. Read full story Source: BBC News, 29 June 2022
  18. News Article
    Wearable fitness and wellness trackers could interfere with some implanted cardiac devices such as pacemakers, according to a study. Devices such as smartwatches, smart rings and smart scales used to monitor fitness-related activities could interfere with the functioning of cardiac implantable electronic devices (CIEDs) such as pacemakers, implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs), and cardiac resynchronisation therapy (CRT) devices, the study published in the Heart Rhythm journal found. Researchers found that the electrical current used in wearable smart gadgets during “bioimpedance sensing” interfered with proper functioning of some implanted cardiac devices from three leading manufacturers. Lead researcher, Dr Benjamin Sanchez Terrones, of the University of Utah. said the results did not convey any immediate or clear risks to patients who wear the trackers. However, the different levels of electrical current emitted by the wearable devices could result in pacing interruptions or unnecessary shocks to the heart. Further research was needed to determine the actual level of risk". “Our research is the first to study devices that employ bioimpedance-sensing technology as well as discover potential interference problems with CIEDs such as CRT devices. We need to test across a broader cohort of devices and in patients with these devices. Collaborative investigation between researchers and industry would be helpful for keeping patients safe,” Sanchez said. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 22 February 2023
  19. News Article
    Health ministers are to recruit a new volunteer army for social care to ferry medical equipment and drugs to people’s homes in a bid to free up congested hospital wards. Under the plan, members of the public will be able to sign up on the GoodSam app for roles such as “check in and chat”, which involves support over the phone for people struggling with loneliness. There will also be the chance to “pick up and deliver”, helping to transport medicines or small items of medical equipment to people’s homes from NHS sites so they can be discharged from hospital, and “community response” roles will involve collecting and delivering shopping and prescriptions. The joint NHS and social care volunteers responders programme for England is being launched on Wednesday amid a social care staffing crisis with 165,000 vacancies and millions of hours of care needs not being met. At the end of April, 49,000 people every day had to stay in NHS hospitals in England despite no longer meeting the criteria to be there. News of the planned announcement from the care minister, Helen Whately, has sparked concern among workers in the sector, who warned that volunteering could not solve the social care recruitment and retention crisis. Helen Wildbore, director of Care Rights UK, which represents relatives and residents, said it “feels like a desperate measure to try and save a system that is crumbling”. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 6 June 2023
  20. News Article
    Patients are being urged to shop around on the NHS app and website to cut their waiting time for treatment in England. IT systems have been updated to allow patients to more easily exercise their right to choose where they go for planned care, such as knee operations. They will now be able to view up to five providers - filtered by distance, waiting times and quality of care. But hospitals warned staffing shortages still needed to be tackled to make the biggest impact on waits. The idea of choosing where to go for treatment has been in place since the early 2000s, but few use it. Currently only1 in 10 exercises their right to choose, with patients reporting they are not always offered a choice of where to go or that it is hard to select different venues. Ministers believe that by searching the list of different hospitals, patients will be able to reduce their waits - potentially by up to three months, research suggests. Read full story Source: BBC News, 25 May 2023
  21. News Article
    Take-up and usage of the NHS App in England has begun to plateau, after covid drove huge growth, figures seen by HSJ suggest. This can be seen in the percentage of GP appointments booked or cancelled using the app; the number of records viewed; and the number of times it has been downloaded. Rapid uptake was driven during covid restrictions, when travel and other activities often required a covid vaccination pass. Government has said it wants the growth to continue. The number of GP appointments booked or cancelled using the app fell for a third consecutive month in March to 212,954, representing a decrease of 15% since January and 28% on October 2022, when usage peaked. The NHS app is central to government’s plan for digital health and care, published last year, billed as the “digital front door” to the NHS which would aid the recovery of services post-pandemic. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 19 April 2023
  22. Content Article
    Cancer Research UK, in partnership with London-based tech company Stitch, are piloting an app for patients to use whilst participating in a clinical trial. The Trialmap app, which was co-created with patients, is being piloted on a clinical trial run by Cancer Research UK’s Centre for Drug Development. The aim of the app is to ensure patients feel valued for their participation, and to improve patient experience during clinical trials. This article looks at how the app: allows patients to easily view information about the trial gives reminders about appointments and what patients might need to do to prepare for them gives patients the opportunity to provide real-time feedback regarding their time on the trial.
  23. News Article
    Recent years has seen a large, and rapid, growth in the availability of digital mental health tools. Do an online search for 'NHS Mental Health Apps' and an abundance of options will appear. These online tools can be helpful for people experiencing mental health problems, however, the Medicines Health and Regulatory products Agency (MHRA) said, they "present regulatory challenges" - such as clarity around whether they are medical devices and, if so, which risk classification they fall under. "Digital mental health tools offer millions of people vital support and guidance to explore and help manage their mental health issues every day," said Johan Ordish, head of software and artificial intelligence (AI) at the MHRA. He pointed out, however, that there are a number of "regulatory complexities" in establishing when these products should be regulated and what evidence they must have to demonstrate safety and effectiveness. Minister for Mental Health, Dr Caroline Johnson, said: "Digital mental health tools can be incredibly useful to help build resilience and prevent problems worsening, but it’s crucial these are regulated properly." To address these vital issues MHRA and NICE will explore and produce guidance on regulating digital mental health tools, using £1.8m funding by Wellcome over 3 years. The project will review key aspects of medical device regulations to produce guidance that will support digital mental health in several significant areas – including: Determining what qualifies as a medical device. The risk classification the devices would fall under. A review of the current evidence base for the devices. The MHRA explained that to achieve this it will "engage with" and "learn from" those with lived experience, subject experts, and patients, to inform their conclusions. Read full story Source: Medscape UK, 11 October 2022
  24. Content Article
    This webinar hosted by the Patients Association looked at the benefits to patients of accessing their GP health records online, and answered questions from patients about how to access this information. 
  25. News Article
    The new version of the government’s contact tracing app will give users a ‘risk score’ based on how many people they interact with and where they live. The news comes as the Department of Health and Social Care launches a trial for the latest model of the contact tracing app, two months after the initial version was scrapped. According to the DHSC, the new app will tell users whether their risk of contracting coronavirus is unknown, low or high based on how many people they are in significant contact with. They will also be told what the coronavirus risk level is in their local authority area and will be alerted if it changes. Government guidance said the risk levels and alerts will be based on a local authority watchlist – which highlights areas that are of particular concern across the country, based on the number of coronavirus cases. People will also be able to check into venues – such as restaurants, pubs and leisure centres – using the app by scanning a QR code. If there is then an outbreak in a venue those who have checked in via the app will be alerted and told to isolate. The new NHS Test and Trace app trial was launched today for residents on the Isle of Wight and will expand to the London borough of Newham next week. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 13 August 2020
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