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NHS WiFi at Haughton Thornley Medical Centres

Dr Amir Hannan explains how NHS WiFi enabled him to help some of his patients access their GP health records online and manage their own care.

A patient called to explain that he had always accessed his records on his computer at home and was having problems logging in to the service he used. I tried to resolve this over the phone, but could not get it to work. I asked him if he had a tablet or smartphone, and he replied “yes, but I am not very good on it and really only use it to make and receive phone calls”.

I asked if he could come in with his wife, half an hour before the surgery closes, so that I would have enough time to get him set up on the smartphone apps we use. Typically, it takes me about 5 minutes to sort out once the apps have been downloaded. In the past I would use my own data on my phone as a hotspot to enable patients to get online who do not have data on their phones.

Having free NHS WiFi is a godsend and means I am not using my personal data allowance to get people online!

The patient arrived with his wife and took out his Android smartphone. It was fully charged, and I could see it had a large screen, was probably 3 or 4 years old and looked almost brand new. I connected the device to the free NHS WiFi and tried to log into the Google Play Store. Unfortunately, it would not let me log into the store because he had never updated the operating system. The update was over 1GB and took about 25 minutes to download and install. I then went to the Google Play Store, downloaded the free Evergreen Life PHR app as well as the Patient Access app, registered his pin numbers and then gave him the phone so that he could look at his full GP electronic health record.

He was over the moon and could now easily see his electronic health records. His wife asked if she could get set up in the same way.

She pulled out her smartphone and said she did not know how to use the phone at all. I noticed that she used her husband's email address for accessing her own records, when newer services need a personal email address. Fortunately, her husband had made an email address for her but she had never had the need to use it. Her smartphone had an up-to-date operating system so I was able to download the apps and use her email address to register her account, giving her access.

I sent both patients a text message inviting them to learn about how we as a practice are engaging patients, carers and staff through the use of technology and what else they can do for themselves supported by the GP practice. Both patients were extremely happy and thanked us for helping to get online.

Helping people to get full access to their electronic health record and understanding it is often a lot more involved than just printing out some pin numbers on a sheet of paper and providing a link on a website.

Best of all, the husband was in his mid-80s and his wife was not much younger! Free NHS WiFi enabled them to get online using their smartphones for the first time, helping them to take more control of their own care. They needed to learn how to do this in the GP surgery and will now be able to do this at home.

It needed our staff and ultimately me as their GP to be interested in helping them to get the best healthcare possible face to face, over the telephone and also online. Thank you, NHS WiFi, for helping us to help our patients and staff.

Dr Amir Hannan

Full-time General Practitioner, Haughton Thornley Medical Centres

Last edited: 16 October 2019 2:53 pm