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The government is planning to roll out an NHS Digital Health Check service from spring 2024, in a bid to free up GP appointments and reduce NHS waiting times.
The check-up is a digital version of the existing NHS Health Check, which is offered as a face-to-face appointment to people between the ages of 40 and 74. Its goal is to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, stroke and some types of dementia. The digital version of the check-up will let patients do their own check online, using a smartphone, tablet or computer.
Patients will be given an online health questionnaire covering height, weight and blood pressure measurements, as well as the chance to conduct and report the results of their own blood tests at home.
Based on the results of the questionnaire, patients will either be given personalised online advice to reduce their risks of the conditions, or given a GP referral should further tests and treatment be needed.
The plans for the roll-out come after a successful trial was run in three GP surgeries in Cornwall. The trial applied lessons learned during the Covid-19 pandemic, where people would do lateral flow tests at home and get their results online.
Health and social care secretary Steve Barclay said thousands of heart attacks and strokes could be prevented through “simple health checks, which would save lives and ease pressure on GP services”.
“This new digital check-up will mean people can do simple tests and get tailored advice from homes while reducing pressure on GP services,” he said. “This programme is the latest example of how we are using technology to cut waiting times – one of the government’s five priorities – and improve diagnosis and treatment.”
Read more about the NHS and technology:
- The Labour Party wants to create an NHS powered by “groundbreaking technology”, with genomics testing for every baby, modernising appointment booking and overhaul incentives for tech adoption.
- Welsh ambulances going through major communications upgrade as part of wider NHS programme.
- Scotland’s five-year strategy aims to make it easier for people to access their own health and social care data, improve data flows between organisations, and transform the way data is used to enhance services.
The NHS Digital Health Check will be available alongside the face-to-face version, so patients have the option to choose which one they prefer. The government estimates that each digital check could save 20 minutes of NHS time, help to free up GPs’ time and reduce NHS waiting lists.
The NHS delivers 1.3 million health checks every year, which are thought to prevent more than 400 heart attacks and strokes, as well as identifying 315,000 people living with obesity and 33,000 cases of hypertension.
CEO of the Stroke Association, Juliet Bouverie said that strokes are “a leading cause of adult disability and one of the biggest killers”.
“We welcome this new digital means of checking and managing your risk of stroke, alongside the option of in-person NHS Health Checks,” she said.
The roll-out of the digital check builds on other technological initiatives the government is running, including the trial of the Better Health: Rewards app in Wolverhampton, which offers incentives such as vouchers for shops, gym discounts and cinema tickets for people who eat healthily and exercise more.