NHS App to offer new login options to help support carers

The health service’s core software program will soon incorporate new means of access beyond its current login options including email and password, as well as fingerprint and facial biometrics capability

Over the coming months the NHS App will begin to offer users new login options as part of a programme intended to better support carers and others that need to access services on behalf of other people, according to a minister.

Users can currently access the app by entering their password and email – either in the app or via the NHS website – or by logging in via fingerprint or facial biometrics. Secondary care minister Andrew Stephenson claimed that the health service intends to introduce further access options soon.

“We are introducing more automated ID checks and new forms of login in the next six months, to make it even quicker for people to register and log in to the NHS App across a range of devices,” he said. “This includes our web version that people without smartphones can access.”

Stephenson added that there will be a wider programme intended to improve ease-of-access for people lacking in tech expertise, as well as those providing care for others.

“We recognise that digital skills levels are not universal, including amongst those people who need our health services the most,” he said. “NHS England is therefore collaborating with local organisations and charities to include NHS App support in their outreach programmes. Alongside this, we have a priority programme to develop secure and safe ways for families and carers to access the NHS App on behalf of other people. The efficiency that the NHS App brings to frontline health services frees up staff to reach people who cannot access digital services via face-to-face and telephone appointments which will continue to be available.”

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The minister pointed to a recent initiative to enable people to sign up for an NHS Login account – which is required to access the NHS App – even if they do not have a mobile phone.

“Once registered, to log in without a phone number, people can have the login remembered on their computer or tablet, or set up face or fingerprint login on their devices, provided their devices support this,” he said. “They can also set up their device using passkeys, which allow use of the main login used on the device, with access to a trusted phone number required to set this up.”

Stephenson added: “However, NHS England recognises the two-step verification features that NHS login supports may not work for everyone. Landline support was therefore recently introduced for NHS login, that allows those without a mobile phone to register and receive security codes. The needs of those with hearing difficulties were considered, and research with deaf charities showed that most people had access to a trusted phone number that they could use. Phone numbers can also be shared between people for NHS login purposes, as a further option to allow access.”

The minister’s comments were made in response to written parliamentary questions from Liberal Democrat MP Daisy Cooper, who asked about government’s planned response to the Public and Patient Experience of the NHS App report recently published by the Patient Coalition for AI, Data and Digital Tech in Health.

“The department is not planning to publish a formal response to the report, but will use the recommendations to inform ongoing work to improve the app,” Stephenson said.

The digital coalition initiative brings together representatives of patient groups, charities, NHS England, the UK’s network of medical royal colleges and the healthtech industry. The group has  the objective of “championing the patient perspective in digital health”, according to its website.

Sam Trendall

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