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Information for staff: what you need to know

If you work at a GP practice, particularly in a patient-facing role, find out what you need to know to help your practice and patients get the most benefit from the NHS App. 

Information for staff: what you need to know

The NHS App has been developed by the NHS in England. It is a new way for patients to connect to your practice and other NHS services, allowing them to:

  • check their symptoms using the health A-Z from the NHS website
  • find out what to do when they need help urgently, using NHS 111 online
  • book and manage appointments at your GP practice
  • order repeat prescriptions for collection at your practice or a pharmacy they have already nominated
  • securely view their GP medical record
  • register to be an organ donor
  • choose how the NHS uses their data

The NHS App is available to download now. See the patient journey for registering with the NHS App.

All practices using TPP and EMIS systems are now connected. 

GP practices using Vision or Microtest systems will be connected later. This is because user testing has shown that if we connect them now, patients would not have the same high-quality experience as users in other practices. We are working with these suppliers to help them make the changes that are needed.

We are still working with clinical commissioning groups and other local contacts to agree connection dates for each area. Your clinical commissioning group will contact you when a connection date is confirmed for your practice.

When your practice is connected, the app will link with the clinical system you use, in the same way that GP online services, and other third-party apps, work.

In the pilot, we found that the NHS App made things easier for staff at GP practices, because:

  • most patients can register and verify their identity through the app, rather than visiting the practice
  • once they are registered, patients can book appointments and ask for repeat prescriptions without needing to call or visit the practice

What you need to do

How to support your patients and help them use the app, so that patients and your practice can benefit.

1. Check how your appointments appear to patients

When patients try to book appointments through the NHS App, they see a version of what has been entered in the clinical system you use.  Patients tell us this is often confusing. Appointment names were probably set up for the convenience of staff, not patients, and so we're asking practices to check. If you know what patients are seeing, you can improve their experience of using this function of the app.

Find guidance on checking and changing appointment settings, including setting up a test patient account

2. Promote the NHS App

Patients can find out about the NHS App by visiting www.nhs.uk/nhsapp. They can find links to download it from app stores, and details of which GP practices are connected.

The NHS App will not replace existing services. Patients can continue to use GP online services or contact your practice in the usual ways if they prefer.

You can find posters and leaflets for you to print out and other advice to help you tell patients about the NHS App on our promotion guidance page.

3. Tell patients where to get help

Patients can get help with the NHS App at www.nhs.uk/apphelp

If patients cannot find the help they need on this page, they can contact us at www.nhs.uk/contact-us/nhs-app-feedback-form

4. Help patients verify their identity

Most patients will verify their own identity in the app, through NHS login. Some patients will not be able to use this method, or may choose not to. View the NHS login patient journey through the NHS App.

Patients who cannot use NHS login include:

Some CCGs or groups of practices may have strict rules on giving online access to young people under the age of 16, so make sure you follow local guidance.

You can use your clinical system to set up online accounts and give patients the identity evidence they need to create an NHS login and access the NHS App. The method for verifying identity is the same as for GP online services. You must continue to follow the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) guidance on identity verification for new applicants.

Helping these patients means that they can still get online with the NHS App and get the benefits.

The NHS App connects to your clinical system in the same way as other third-party apps. The process is slightly different in the different systems. You can get detailed technical information from your system supplier.

TPP SystmOne 

Check whether the patient is already registered for GP online services, and verify their email address with them and check the box. Make sure they know they should use this verified email address to create their NHS App account.

Patients who are not registered

If the patient is not already registered for GP online services:

  1. Check you can confirm their identity – your practice will have a procedure for verifying patients’ identity, which meets the RCGP guidance

  2. For patients under 16, follow your existing procedure for assessing competence
  3. Select ‘Register for online services’ from the patient record
  4. Send the account ID and the third-party passphrase, a code which the patient will use to register, via text or email, or print it out.

Patients who are registered

Patients who are already registered for GP online services need their account ID and third-party passphrase. This will not be the same as the password they have set to log in to any web applications or third-party apps.

As the third-party passphrase expires 14 days after it was issued, you should choose ‘issue new third-party passphrase’ from the patient record to generate a new passphrase for them to use, with their account ID, in the login process.

Do not choose any of the other options, for example 'Reset user name and password', as this will not reset the details they need to register.

Patients can also reset their own details from within the online services they use.

EMIS

Check whether the patient is already registered for GP online services.

Patients who are not registered

If the patient is not already registered for online services:

  1. Go to 'Registration' and select the patient.

  2. Make sure they have a primary, verified email address recorded (so that you will be able to email the details they need to log on to the app).
  3. If the patient is under 16, you need to add the code EMISNQCO278, which means 'Competent to consent to online access' to their record before you start registration. (Follow your existing procedure for assessing competence)
  4. On the Registration screen, click the Patient Services tab.
  5. Click Add online user > Add current patient.
  6. Complete the Online user screen, making sure you follow your practice's procedure for verifying identity, which meets the RCGP guidance - the access configuration settings can be left on default
  7. Click 'OK'.
  8. Select how you want to send the PIN document, containing the account ID and PIN (linkage key) which the patient can use to register.

Patients who are registered

If the patient is already registered for GP online services, they can use the account ID and PIN, or account linkage key, they were originally issued with when they set up their account. This will not be the same as the password they have set to log in to any web applications or third-party apps.

If they no longer have this, you can email it to them or print it out again, so that they can use it to register for the NHS App.

Patients can also reset their own details from within the online services they use.

5. Safeguarding and managing inappropriate use

As the NHS App uses NHS login, most patients can get access to the GP online services available through the app without the practice having any involvement.  If they don't already have a GP online services account, they will get the practice's default level of access to these services, generally: appointment booking, repeat prescription requests and summary record level access to their medical records, which includes personal information, recent medications and allergy information.

To prevent a patient from having access to this level of access, you need to adjust the settings within their account.

Safeguarding reasons for restricting access include where the patient:

  • cancels appointments they need, for example if they have dementia - all appointments can be cancelled through the app, even if they were booked in person
  • is at risk of coercion through online access

Appointment booking also has the potential to be misused.

Your practice should already have a procedure in place for managing this issue with other online services, but if your procedure has been simply to delete the online account, this needs to be amended.

Guidance on coercion and other considerations can be found in RGCP guidance on GP online services.

Stop patients accessing services

If you need to revoke patient access to appointment booking or record access, it is important to do it within the individual patient's online account settings. If you simply delete their whole online access account, a new one will automatically be created the next time they use the NHS App.

6. Answer questions on viewing patient records

The level of detail a patient sees in their medical record through the NHS App is set in the practice's clinical system, and not by the app itself. The default level of access a patient has is generally ‘summary care information’, which includes demographic, allergy and medication information.

Patients who wish to access more sections of their medical record, or believe there is an error in it, will need to raise this directly with you at the GP practice. This is because the practice remains the custodian of the patient’s record and decisions about whether to provide access or amend it must be made by a clinician.

Patients who have already been given access to more sections of their medical record will be able to access them via the NHS App. However, patients will not be able to view documents through this version of the NHS App.

The app will not enter any information into a patient’s record.

7. Answer questions on repeat prescriptions

Patients can request repeat prescriptions through the app. If a patient has already nominated a pharmacy, prescriptions will be sent there. If not, they will be sent to the practice to be picked up. Patients will soon be able to set up a new nomination or change an existing nomination through the app.

8. Help with digital inclusion

Digital tools can empower patients to take control of their own health and care. We know lots of people face barriers to using apps and other technology, and that in some places GP practices are doing great work to help patients get on line and use new digital services. Our digital inclusion guide could help you help patients get on board. 

Related pages

  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 hear from GP practices that are already using the NHS App.

Last edited: 16 September 2019 10:32 am