Innovation and changeDigital TransformationFree NHS WiFi to benefit millions of patients

Free NHS WiFi to benefit millions of patients

NHS Digital exceeded its target to have 95% coverage, by 31 March 2019 with 95% of GP practices and 98% of NHS trusts already connected

NHS WiFi will now be available to millions of patients across 6,749 GP practices and 212 acute, mental health and community NHS Trusts, according to NHS Digital.

Having access to free WiFi opens a range of possibilities for staff and patients, including:

  • Staying connected to friends and family using messaging services
  • Empowering patients to monitor and look after their own health better using digital health services
  • Keeping injured children entertained in A&E
  • Reliable staff access to health information, controlled by appropriate technology
  • Reduced frustration and wasted time for practice staff and increased satisfaction for patients and increased health economies for CCGs
  • Able to work more remotely around offices without having to be tied to a fixed desktop PC, avoid network delays and share notes with colleagues more easily in real-time.

Whilst in a GP practice or hospital setting, patients are able to access information about their condition, treatment and prescriptions, which they can then discuss with their clinician. Clinical staff can also direct patients to apps that can monitor their condition, or record information that is shared with their care team to support decision making.

Patients can access apps that help them communicate with medical staff to understand their health needs better using images, photos and text.

Some patients may want to use mental health related apps. Others may simply want to book further GP appointments or order repeat prescriptions on the NHS App.

Bury CCG, responsible for a combination of 30 GP practices and medical centres, were early adopters of NHS WiFi. Jo Panter, Practice Manager said: “The practice staff have found having the WiFi to enable laptops and tablets to be used for meetings has made a really positive impact and has changed our approach to the structure of practice meetings.”

Mark Nicholas, Clinical Lead for the programme at NHS Digital said: “It’s great to have so many patients already connected to free WiFi, empowering them to take more control over their own health through access to digital services. I’m really pleased that the service is being used for such a wide variety of health reasons.”

Digital transformation at NHS

Digitisation is high on the agenda for the NHS. In two separate developments, the organisation received a digital boost through the rollout of fibre optic internet and faster development of new technology-based services.

All NHS organisations will get the fastest broadband available, which will improve the range and quality of digital healthcare services offered to patients. Similarly, new improvements to the Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC) will put the most promising medicines, diagnostic tools and digital services through the clinical development and regulatory approval process faster.

Recently, it was announced that NHS 111 online has been used more than one million times to get people the medical help they need since its launch in December 2017.

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