The NHS App - Our Competitor or Our Enabler?

By Freya

What does it mean for pharmacies?

We often get asked by our pharmacy customers for our views on the NHS App, specifically whether it is competing with Healthera.

This blog explains the NHS App in relation to existing patient apps, and how it enables Healthera to be even more important for pharmacies now and in the future.

The NHS App is one of many options for patients

Although the NHS App is offered by the government, it isn’t like the HMRC self-assessment portal which everyone must use to file their taxes.

Long before the NHS App was announced, GP practices were offering patient apps built by private companies, allowing appointment bookings and repeat prescription requests. There are also numerous online pharmacy apps which provide the same functionality but from their own dispensing hubs. Healthera addresses a market gap for user-friendly technology that connects pharmacies and patients. From the independent pharmacy’s perspective, it is the only app which allows repeat prescription orders while enhancing the pharmacy’s relationship with patients. Healthera supports patients with their medication and enables pharmacies to grow their business through service promotion, patient retention and time-saving.

It makes a huge difference to the pharmacy which app a patient chooses. If patients choose an online pharmacy app, they automatically leave their local pharmacy. Most GP apps offer no differentiation for your services or brand. The NHS App doesn’t currently offer the functionality to nominate a pharmacy or communicate with the local pharmacy. Therefore, there is no way to improve patient acquisition or retention.

The largest patient app on the market by Monthly Active Users is used by approximately 1% of the UK population. With 91% of adults using smartphones daily, it’s up to individual businesses to win the loyalty of patients who still don’t use technology to manage their medication.

The NHS App has seen a growing demand for digital solutions. Since its adoption, patient app use has grown across the board, including those choosing Healthera.

The NHS App could enable Healthera’s strategy for the future

We have supported the NHS App initiative from the beginning, assisting the NHS Digital teams to conceptualise the app as a public sector initiative with social objectives.By embracing digital health innovations at a national level, our government is setting an example on the global stage. The NHS App is helping to create a level playing field, enabling all healthcare technology providers to access resources previously controlled by a few.

Integration standard

The NHS App envisages an open health data platform for the country. Using a standardised API, the NHS App allows prescriptions to be digitally requested with the GP whenever patients issue a request.

Healthera is currently developing integration with GP clinical systems using the same API as the NHS App. This means Healthera will function exactly the same as the NHS App for processing repeat prescriptions (maintaining all of the existing differentiating features we offer).

Third party apps directly via the NHS App

The NHS App will connect to apps which have been assessed through the NHS Apps Library. Therefore, patients will be able to reach Healthera directly from within the NHS App.

Healthera has been listed on the NHS Apps Library since May 2018; we have already noticed significant uptake since the NHS App was launched. When the Apps Library function from within the NHS App becomes available, we expect another wave of adoption.

Geographical enabler

Our healthcare services are locally chosen and commissioned. The NHS App plans to surface features selectively to patients based on whether they are locally commissioned. Since last year, we have been partnering with CCGs who run Prescription Ordering Direct programmes. In these localities, we fulfil the role of a local “NHS app”.

The NHS App first entered the market as an alternative option, combining the many functionalities of existing GP apps. Eventually, it will become a platform of healthcare apps allowing patients to access the best health services in the country. It has already standardised GP system integrations (to the benefit of Healthera and our entire customer base). We expect many more collaborations to come.

Most importantly, the NHS App has laid the foundation for the nation to go digital with their healthcare. We are working towards a future where Healthera continues to support and complement the work of the NHS. By delivering integration with GP clinical systems and continuously improving our technology, pharmacies and patients are getting the best service possible.