Demand for NHS tech soars during coronavirus outbreak


Demand for NHS tech services has surged since the coronavirus outbreak began, new figures from NHS Digital reveal.

The most notable increase in use was recorded for Microsoft Teams, the NHS App and NHS 111 online.

Since being made available across the entire NHS to support remote working during the Covid-19 outbreak use of Teams has surged by more than 800%.

NHS Digital finished rolling out the messaging tool to all NHSmail users on 20 March. Between 22-28 March is was used for 973,072 online chats – rising from 6,804 on 22 March to a peak of 243,927 on 26 March.

During the same seven-day period, it facilitated 66,736 team online chats, 76,173 private calls and 68,365 team calls, NHS Digital figures show.

This equates to around 28,148 unique users per day, starting with 4,812 on 22 March and peaking at 44,885 on 27 March, an increase of 832%.

Microsoft Teams was rolled out across the NHS in England and Scotland between 16-20 March to help NHS teams better communicate and collaborate their responses to Covid-19, and counter the increased risks associated with the virus.

Microsoft Teams enables users to send instant messages, make internal calls, share, edit and collaborate on files and documents in one central, secure location.

Demand for other digital NHS services has also soared, with use of the NHS App has increasing 111% in March. A total of 119,512 people registered to use the app, compared to 56,655 in February.

The number of repeat prescription requests made via the app increased by 97% and the number of patient record views rose by 62%.

The number of people using NHS 111 online per day has skyrocketed by more than 5,000% during March.

Prior to the coronavirus outbreak the service recorded an average of 10,000 users per day, but March saw more than 16 million people using the service – an average of 548,245 users a day.

The service’s busiest day was recorded on 17 March when 950,000 people used the site.

More than one million people accessed a dedicated NHS online support for coronavirus within a week of its launch on 4 March.

Pharmacies have also seen an increase in electronic prescription services, rising by more than 1.25 million in March.

Ben Davison, NHS Digital’s executive director for product development, said: “These are unprecedented times and with social distancing now the norm for everyone, we’re really starting to see digital technologies come to the fore – not just in the NHS but in all walks of life.

“Good technology is making it possible for doctors, nurses and other health professionals to continue to deliver care remotely where possible and freeing up time for those patients who need face-to-face care.

“It’s keeping people well whilst they are isolated with good information and advice and the ability to manage things like prescriptions remotely.

“We’re fully prepared for the numbers using NHS tech to continue increasing over the coming days and weeks, as the general public continue to play a key role in helping to ease the burden on our fantastic frontline services.”

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