Apps, News

Rotherham health app integrates primary and secondary care services

A patient app in Rotherham is allowing residents to access both primary and secondary care services through one integrated platform.

The Rotherham Health App displays both hospital and GP information to service users, via the application, and allows them to access a service directory, self refer, book assessments, and amend appointments.

Developed by Birmingham-based company Substrakt Health, the app was first rolled out across the South Yorkshire town by Rotherham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in 2018. It is now in use by every GP practice in the CCG and available to a patient population of around 260,000 people.

The app can be used by patients to check symptoms, view health records, book appointments, order prescriptions, send admin requests to GP surgeries, and to complete health questionnaires. It also allows patients to locate useful services and even self-refer into selected ones, without having to navigate through administrative red tape or extra appointments.

Initially launched to take administrative pressures away from GP practices by digitising previously manual processes, Substrakt Health has since been working on the app with both the CCG and The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust (TRFT) to ‘integrate and connect services’ further and maximise efficiencies and resources in the area.

New app functionalities include visibility of secondary care appointments for patients, with James Rawlinson, Director of Health Informatics at TRFT, explaining that this, “shows patients the details of their hospital appointments as well as contact information for the relevant department if they need to change or cancel it.

“We hope that providing appointment details in the app will offer a convenient reminder for those who may have lost their appointment letter, reducing ‘did not attends’ (DNAs), which wastes the valuable time of our clinical staff. This will also benefit GP surgeries who often receive calls from patients wanting to change or amend secondary care appointments.”

“We believe having this information easily accessible via the app will encourage more patients to re-arrange appointments they can’t make by making it easier for them to do so. All this should help to reduce wait times and backlogs by making use of time that would previously have been wasted on missed appointments,” James adds.

Dr Richard Cullen, South Yorkshire’s Lead GP for Digital, a local GP and the Chair of NHS Rotherham CCG, also believes that app has a multitude of benefits, noting that, “since the functionality for patients to self-refer into maternity services went live on the app late last year, the number of people referring themselves has already saved GP practices in Rotherham hundreds of hours.”

He adds: “The app provides access to a service directory which signposts patients to local health and care services in Rotherham, and allows patients to refer themselves directly into services such as mental health and maternity without having to telephone or attend unnecessary appointments at their GP surgery.

“This means for example, that patients in Rotherham struggling with their mental health can now book an assessment appointment directly with a psychologist on the app for the following day in many cases. It’s quick and convenient – they can book at any time of the day or night, it ensures early intervention and eliminates the need for these patients to see their GP first as well as significantly reducing the administration burden of NHS teams…time and efficiency savings are invaluable; by freeing up GP practice time you benefit the whole community.”