Skip to main content

Check your system settings

All GP practices are now connected to the NHS App. Practice managers or IT leads should take these steps to make sure your patients have the best possible experience when they use the NHS App to connect with your practice.

All practices are now connected to the NHS App.

Your patients will be able to use the app to connect with your clinical system to:

  • book and cancel appointments
  • order repeat prescriptions
  • view their record

The app uses NHS login to give most patients access to these services without having to come in to the practice.

What patients see in the NHS App depends on the specific settings you have used in your clinical system.

Check your appointment settings

The NHS App will show any appointments you have made available for online booking within the next 16 weeks. You can make some changes in your clinical system if you find they are needed, to improve your patients' experience when they use the app.

All practices are now connected. Because of this, it's very important that you check how your practice services appear in the app.

The test patient function is not currently available in Microtest practices because of differences to the NHS login journey. View more information on the NHS login journey for patients at Microtest practices.

1. Set up a test patient

You should set up a test patient so that you can check how your appointments appear to patients in the NHS App. (This feature is not currently available for practices that use the Microtest clinical system.)

The app works by connecting a patient to their GP record in your clinical system, so you need to set up a test patient in both the clinical system and the NHS App.

Set up a test patient in your clinical system

Your test patient needs to be aged 16 or over, and have an NHS number and account in your clinical system, with patient online services activated. You might already have a suitable account set up.

Record the full name, postcode, linkage key and account ID to use later.

You need a test NHS number to use that's present on the central NHS system, Spine. If you don't have one, you can contact nhsapp@nhs.net to request one.

Set up a test patient in the NHS App

You will need:

  • an apple or android phone or tablet, to download the app
  • an email account (set up a free one if you don’t want to use one you already have)
  • a mobile phone number, so you can get a text message even if you’re using a tablet
  • the full name, postcode, linkage key and account ID of the test patient account
  • the practice’s ODS code

Download the NHS App, choose your practice from the list, and follow the instructions to set up the account. Use the test patient details you recorded to link the NHS login account to the test record in your clinical system. See Getting started with NHS login: the patient journey for more details.

You can then test the appointment booking service, and make more changes in your clinical system if you find you need to.

2. Make appointments available for online booking

Lots of patients tell us there are not enough appointments available to book through the NHS App. If an appointment can be booked over the phone, we recommend it should also be bookable online. 

We recommend this because during the pilot we found that patients would continue to call in, rather than use the app, if there were fewer appointments available to book online.

The GP Contract Five Year Framework published on 31 January 2019 states that ‘all practices will ensure at least 25% of appointments are available for online booking by July 2019.’ This is a percentage of all appointments you offer in the practice, including nurse and specialist appointments.

The more types of appointments you can make available to book online, the more people will use the app and the more time this will save for reception staff. Providing better access to specialist clinic appointments, such as blood tests or mother and baby appointments can also help towards Quality and Outcomes Framework/Enhanced Services (QOF/ES) targets. However, it's up to each practice to make decisions about online booking that best suit how you work.

You can use features in your clinical systems to support your processes. These can include:

  • using embargos, so that appointments become available online at the same time as your phone lines open
  • limiting the number of appointments patients can have booked at one time - but be aware this will cap the number of total appointments, whether they are booked online, over the phone or in person
  • using the messages that patients see on online booking systems to give patients more information to help them book the right appointment - if you use this, you should make sure it appears correctly in all the third party apps that you use
  • if it's available in the system you use, asking the patient to specify a reason for booking, which can then help reception staff triage and contact any patient who has booked an appointment that's not suitable

The methods vary in different clinical systems. You can get support from your system supplier. We have provided brief guidelines on making your appointments available online within specific clinical systems.

TPP SystmOne: instructions to make appointments bookable online
  1. Check the settings in Online Services > Appointment Booking. 
  2. Make sure 'Enable appointment booking' is checked. (You have probably already activated this for GP online services.)
  3. Decide whether you want to allow booking to all slot types, rota type and clinicians, or specify which ones. Use the radio buttons to do this.
  4. If you choose to specify, a dialogue box will open - move the ones you want to make bookable over to the list on the other side.
  5. When you specify which are bookable, make sure they match what is bookable over the phone, particularly for general appointments and daily emergency appointments.
EMIS: instructions to make appointments bookable online
  1. Check the settings in the Appointment Book tab.
  2. Highlight the slots you want to make bookable online, by clicking and or dragging, or using ctrl-click.
  3. Right click, select 'Slot Properties', and make sure the Patient Facing Services check box is ticked.
  4. Make sure the appointments you have made bookable online match what is bookable over the phone, particularly for general appointments and daily emergency appointments.

You can also update your appointment templates to make appointments automatically bookable online.

  1. Click on 'Create Session'.
  2. Select 'Load from template' at the bottom left of the pop-up box.
  3. Select the session template you want to amend - it will load up in the session preview on the right hand side.
  4. Highlight the slots you want to make bookable online, by clicking and or dragging, or using ctrl-click.
  5. Right click, select 'Slot Properties', and make sure the Patient Facing Services check box is ticked.
  6. Click 'Apply and Close'
  7. Save the template.

Any future appointment sessions the template is applied to will be made available online.

Vision: instructions to make appointments bookable online

First, you need to check the online function is enabled in Vision:

  1. From Management Tools, select Control Panel > File Maintenance > Online
  2. Make sure Appointments Enabled is ticked.

You can then amend slot types using either Vision 3 or Appointment Back Office App, depending on which you use for appointment management.

To make appointments available for online booking in Vision 3:

  1. From Vision Appointments, select Plan – Slot Type.
  2. Select an existing slot type and select Edit, or choose Add to create a new slot type, adding in description, warning message and colour as you would normally do.
  3. Select the Web Default box to make the slot type bookable online.
  4. Select OK.

To make appointments available for online booking in the Appointment Back Office App:

  1. From Vision – Appointments Back Office, select Slot Types.
  2. Select the slot you’d like to edit and click on Edit.
  3. Tick Web Bookings and select Apply.
Microtest: instructions to make appointments bookable online

First you need to check if online appointment booking is enabled in Microtest:

  1. In the Appointments Module select the Practice Services tab.
  2. Check that the Appointments setting is turned ON and shows as green.
  3. Decide whether you want to limit the default number of future appointments a single registered user can book. Type this into the text box.

You can then make existing slots available for online Booking:

  1. Open the Clinic Templates module, by going to Modules > Maintenance > Appointments > Clinic Templates.
  2. Select the Appointments tab and double click on the clinic you want to review.
  3. Slots that are available to be booked online will have a globe icon in the ‘I’ Column.
  4. To turn online booking on or off right click on a slot and select Internet Slot.

3. Use language that patients can understand

More than 2 out of 3 patients we asked said they could not understand appointments as they display in the NHS App.

Check how your appointments appear to patients, and make some changes if you need to.

Appointment naming

Do

  • Tick Image

    make it clear if the appointment is a phone or online appointment - for example 'phone appointment - general'

  • Tick Image

    use simple language - the average reading age in the UK is around 9 years old

  • Tick Image

    make the purpose of the appointment clear

  • Tick Image

    state which group the appointment slot is for - for example 'women only: cervical screening'

  • Tick Image

    use short appointment names - long names do not display fully on mobile devices

Do not

  • Cross Image

    do not use clinical terms - think 'blood test' rather than 'phlebotomy'

  • Cross Image

    do not use terms such as 'default', 'internet' or 'embargo' - these make no sense to patients

  • Cross Image

    do not include clinician name, time or location - these are displayed separately

Clinician naming

Do

  • Tick Image

    Include the gender of the clinician in the name field using (M) or (F) - research shows this is important to patients

Do not

  • Cross Image

    Do not include the clinician name in appointment names - this causes confusion as the clinician name is displayed separately

We have provided brief guidelines on changing the names of your appointments.

TPP SystmOne: instructions for naming appointments

In TPP SystmOne patients will be able to see the slot type and the rota type. You need to set both to be easily understandable. Only administrators can set the custom appointment slot types and rota types.

To change the name of the slot type:

  1. Select Setup > Appointments > Slot Types from the main menu.
  2. Highlight the slot you want to change by clicking on it, and choose 'Amend Slot Type'.
  3. Edit the name and description, and click 'OK'.

To change the name of the rota type:

  1. Select Setup > Appointments > RotaTypes from the main menu.
  2. Highlight the rota type you want to change by clicking on it, and choose 'Amend Rota Type'.
  3. Edit the Name and click 'OK'.
EMIS: instructions for naming appointments

In EMIS patients can see the Session Name and Slot Type.

To change the Session Name:

  1. In the Appointment Book tab, click on 'Create Session' and then choose 'Load from template'.
  2. Edit the Session Name and click 'Save as template'.
  3. If this session template is already in use, a pop-up will appear asking you if you want to update existing sessions - choose Yes to rename them.

To change the slot type:

  1. In the Appointment Book tab, click on 'Appts Config' and choose 'Slot Types'.
  2. Click on the slot type you want to edit, and click 'Edit'
  3. Change the Name and click OK, and then OK again.
Vision: instructions for naming appointments

The patient will see the name of the slot type in the NHS App, not the VOS (Vision Online Services) name, so you need to check the names of the slot types and amend them if necessary.

  1. From Management Tools, select Control Panel > File Maintenance > Online.
  2. Under Services select Configure Appointments.
  3. Select the Slot Type tab.
  4. Double click on the slot type you want to update.
  5. Edit the name of the slot type.
Microtest: instructions for naming appointments
  1. Open the Clinic Templates module, by clicking on Modules > Maintenance > Appointments > Clinic Templates.
  2. From the left hand pane select the clinic that you want to review.
  3. Edit the name.

Further information

  1. internal

    Guidance for GP practices on the NHS App

    Check your systems, find out what staff need to know, get posters and other materials to tell your patients about the app, and find out the benefits to your practice.

Last edited: 24 August 2020 4:12 pm