Patients should be urged by GPs to book their appointments, request repeat prescriptions and access their medical records online. That is one of four recommendations made by Martha Lane Fox, the Internet entrepreneur famous for her role in lastminute.com, to the UK Government in the take-up of digital opportunities in healthcare. The other three recommendations were: requiring free Wi-Fi in all NHS buildings, improving digital skills in NHS workers, and making sure digital health schemes involve everyone including those unlikely to access the Internet. Ms Lane Fox said GP practices should look to achieve a take-up of 10% of its patients going online each year from 2016, so that 90% would be online by 2025.

Ms Lane Fox’s recommendations come in the wake of the promise by George Osborne, the Chancellor, to invest £1bn in new technology in healthcare in the next five years, with the aim of delivering better connected services for patients and to ensure doctors and nurses have the information they need at their fingertips.

Paul Gershlick, a Partner and Head of Life Sciences and Healthcare at Matthew Arnold & Baldwin LLP, comments: “The Government is facing a financial crisis in the NHS with growing and complex demands of an ageing population. The answer must come in the form of much better and smarter ways of managing data and treatments using technology. The Government knows this and has expressed a commitment to support this outcome. The question is whether people working in healthcare will embrace technology quickly enough to achieve the benefits that technology can bring in terms of more efficient use of resource and better health outcomes for patients.”

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