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Forty-five percent of adults ordered repeat prescriptions online during COVID

Research highlights opportunities for digital growth post-COVID

March 16th 2021

Tagged: Research COVID19

By Ailsa Colquhoun

Some 45 per cent of UK adults ordered a repeat prescription online and 21 per cent used email/text/app for communicating with a healthcare professional during the first COVID wave, according to research by the Health Foundation.

In a report, Securing a positive technology legacy from COVID-19, the think-tank surveyed 4,326 adults (85 per cent from England, 8 per cent Scotland, 5 per cent Wales and 3 per cent Northern Ireland).

Several key technologies were identified as popular with patients during the first phase of the pandemic including:

  • Having a phone consultation with a doctor or nurse: 73 per cent
  • Booking an appointment by phone​: 49 per cent​
  • Ordering a repeat prescription online​: 45 per cent​
  • Using an app for COVID tracing​: 33 per cent​
  • Using the NHS website for information or support​: 30 per cent

​The research finds that a sudden, urgent common purpose simplified decision-making, which was encouraged by infrastructural support such as information governance guidance, licenses, procurement frameworks, and equipment purchases. A significant reduction in services also released staff capacity to implement and deliver change.

To sustain technology use beyond the pandemic, the research suggests three priorities for NHS provider organisations:

  • Revisit aspects of development and implementation: emphasise local evaluation to identify and mitigate digital exclusion
  • Think about longer term objectives: Consider questions such as: How can the recent deployment of devices for home monitoring support self care? How can increased use of video consultations improve patient access, clinical productivity and use of the NHS estate?
  • Create the right environment for adopting and using technology: Engage with workforce to build a shared vision around technology-enabled care, ensuring the right digital infrastructure and staffing are in place.