Download spike also prompts rise in digital prescriptions and use of technology to book GP appointments
Since incorporating the digital Covid pass vaccine certification, the number of registered users of the NHS app now has shot up to 16 million.
This compares with a total of just 250,000 in March 2020, 15 months after the app had been released. Over the subsequent 14 months this figure rose by about two million.
The government said that the technology is now “the most downloaded free app in England”.
In a presentation as part of London Tech Week, health and social care secretary Sajid Javid said: “The benefits of technology are enormous. Nowhere has tech transformation proved its worth more than in health and care. We all owe so much not just to our doctors, nurses and colleagues on the front line but also the coders, developers and innovators who helped our NHS stay so strong. We’ve seen what healthtech can do at a time when health systems around the world were under incredible strain. We must build on the progress that we’ve all seen and deliver this long-awaited digital revolution.”
In addition to taking advantage of the digital vaccine status, in the last four months citizens have made use of the program to book 268,000 GP appointments and order 3.2 million repeat prescriptions.
The app also allows users to manage how their data is used, as well as registering preferences in regards to organ donation.
A total of 1.5 million app users have done so, including 265,000 who have used the technology to register as organ donors for the first time – 150,000 in the last four months alone.
Since new laws were introduced last year, England has an opt-out system, in which people are regarded as potential post-mortem organ donors unless they are excluded or have directly revoked their assumed consent.
Nevertheless, Alex Hudson, head of the NHS Organ Donor Register for NHS Blood and Transplant, said that the uptick in registrations prompted by increased use of the health-service app will save lives and help grieving families.
“Since the new organ donation law came into effect, our priority has been to ensure that each person knows that organ donation is still a choice. By enabling people to check, amend and update their organ donation decision, the NHS App makes it easier than ever for people to manage and control their own organ donation decision,” he said. “Even though organ donation has changed to an opt-out system, it is important for people to be aware that families will still always be approached before organ donation goes ahead. When a person has proactively registered their organ donation decision, we know this provides great comfort and reassurance for families at what is an incredibly difficult time.”
Matthew Gould, chief executive of NHSX, which worked with NHS Digital to create and support the app, said that work to improve its functionality will continue.
“This is tech saving lives. By making it easier for people to set their preferences for organ donation, we have thousands more people whose organs might now be used to save others. We will be developing the NHS App so people can use it to drive their own care, set their own preferences, and stay healthy