Digital GP and patientPatients in England are on course to make 10 million online GP appointments and order more than 15 million repeat prescriptions over the internet, NHS England’s digital lead has revealed.

Based on Health and Social Care Information Centre activity figures from June this year, it is also estimated that patients will use new online systems to view more than 500,000 test results or letters about ongoing care. 

The digital uptake was revealed by Beverley Bryant, NHS England’s Director of Digital Technology, in a talk to the Sustainable Healthcare - turning concepts into reality for individuals and the NHS conference, which took place in London today (2 December). 

Speaking at the conference, Bryant welcomed the figures but called on more local practices and decision makers to use new guidance from the Patient Online programme to offer more services to more patients as soon as possible. 

“Building on successes last year we need to expand the use of online service in general practices,” she said. “We need to go further and faster – more patients, accessing more services and being able to view more information about their health and care.

“This updated guidance and resource should give practices and their local partners all the information they need to be able to capitalise on the opportunities that technology presents to improve services for patients and increase the efficiency of their practices.”

In the first six months of the 2015/16 financial year, patients used online services offered by their GP practice to order medication 7,681,879 times, and book or rearrange appointments 5,094,258 times. More than 97% of patients are now able to benefit from these services.

Increasing numbers of patients are also being enabled to access information on their medical records online. So far this year patients have viewed their test results 268,144 times, and viewed letters about their care 257,825 times. All practices should be offering access to detailed coded information by the end of March 2016. 

Dr Masood Nazir, a GP in Birmingham and the Clinical Lead for the Patient Online programme, said: “The evidence on the benefits that this can bring for both patients and practices continues to increase.

“As the workload of GP practices grows, online services not only reduce the administrative burden for practices who are embracing them but the sharing of information is also shown to increase patient satisfaction, whilst delivering real benefits and convenience to patients.”