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Wales launches beta version of its own NHS app

NHS Wales has begun trialling the beta version of its patient-facing app ahead of plans for a full launch next year

The NHS in Wales has launched the beta version of its app, giving patients access to health and care services on smartphones and tablets. The NHS Wales App will let patients book appointments, see test results and order prescriptions in the first instance.

NHS Wales has ambitious long-term plans for the app, which is part of the Digital Services for Patients and the Public (DSPP) programme run by Digital Health and Care Wales.

The aim of the DSPP programme is to eventually let patients have access to a wide range of health and care services through the app, and to be able to use it as a tool to support people managing their conditions at home.

This includes access to services such as social care and mental health; secondary care information such as radiology and pathology results; information from self-monitoring devices such as blood sugar and blood pressure monitors, smartwatches and other self-monitoring devices; as well as potentially data held by third sector organisations.

The app is now in beta, with a thousand patients from 10 different GP surgeries trialling the app, and a full public launch is due to take place in 2023.

Patients are able to access the app by using NHS Login for authentication and verification in the first instance, and fingerprint or facial recognition will be available for further logins, depending on the device used. A website version is also available.

The NHS Wales App uses the same software code as the NHS App in England, however, while there are similarities between the two, NHS Wales felt it needed its own app due to different functionality requirements, including giving wider access to health and care services across Wales, as well as providing digital health services in Welsh.

In 2021, the DSPP programme launched ambitious plans to create a  a collaborative ecosystem for technology suppliers and clinical providers to deliver joined-up care for patients, underpinned by the app.

Although the app itself is at the centre of the programme, the premise behind it – creating better relationships with suppliers and opening up the NHS to innovation – is just as important, with the DSPP intended to set up an entire ecosystem that will support suppliers and practitioners across health services to deploy digital services.

Speaking to Computer Weekly about the programme in March 2021, DSPP programme director Stephen Frith said the aim is to set up a collaborative centre of excellence environment.

“The concept of a product from a citizen perspective is really very large if you think about every interface that you would need to access every aspect of every care.We are not building a great big central behemoth of an NHS product to access all of that. We are setting up an infrastructure where we can plug and play, to an extent, best of breed to support particular types of care and areas of care,” he said.

The DSPP programme is also keen to create a supplier-friendly environment, where suppliers can help the NHS to innovate and create new models of care.

Read more about the NHS and technology

  • Computer Weekly looks at NHS Wales’ project to create a patient-facing app and a collaborative ecosystem for technology suppliers and NHS providers to deliver joined-up care.
  • UK’s national data guardian agrees with the ambitions of the NHS federated data platform, but warns that the programme must avoid ‘common pitfalls around trust and transparency’.
  • NHS Digital interim CEO Simon Bolton calls for a stronger mandate from the centre around the systems in use in the NHS, with no more than four to six electronic patient record systems used across the country.

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