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The continuing rise of patient apps is improving care and delivering on sustainability.

A large percentage of NHS emissions are created by patient visits to their GP and to hospital. For example, there are over 300 million patient consultations in General Practice every year, and over 125 million outpatient appointments in hospitals.

Traditionally, the majority of these appointments have been carried out face-to-face. Often patients are travelling several miles and each appointment means a car journey or a trip on public transport. This is often accompanied by an additional journey to a pharmacy, to collect prescribed medication, before returning home.

Digital front-door

The NHS has long aspired to give patients alternative digital options. This became increasingly important during the pandemic and services moved rapidly to provide this choice. For example, data from the Royal College of General Practitioners showed that over 70% of GP appointments switched to be online, over video, or on the phone.

It is technology that has made this possible – for example, connecting patients to their care team using TPP’s Airmid app. Airmid provides a digital bridge between patients and the NHS. It allows people to manage appointments online, have remote video consultations, and access test results and hospital letters.

The rise of patient apps and the options for remote consultations look here to stay.

Airmid also excels with medication management. It enables new medication to be prescribed to patients and a digital barcode sent straight to their smartphone, so they can collect it directly from the pharmacy.

The app is also providing digital options for follow-up care, reducing the need for additional appointments. Patients can communicate directly with healthcare staff via secure, in-app messaging. Doctors can provide tailored questionnaires to patients to follow-up on their progress, after treatment.

Environmental impact

This new digital functionality is serving to significantly reduce the number of journeys people need to make to access health services. People can often get the care they need without needing to travel.

The increasing trend of patient apps and online consultations is also having a positive environmental impact beyond this. For example, it is helping the NHS move to completely paperless services and removing the need for printed prescriptions. Ultimately reducing the number of face-to-face appointments will also mean fewer NHS buildings to heat and light.

The new normal

The rise of patient apps and the options for remote consultations look here to stay. Indeed, NHS England guidance now states that GP practices should ‘offer and promote’ remote consultations.

Surveys have shown that many people prefer online or video consultations, finding them easier to fit around their busy lives. Researchers from the University of Surrey have also revealed that patients miss fewer remote consultations than those taking place in person.

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