Integrated care boards (ICBs) could lead on work to improve the accessibility of GP practice website in their footprint, NHS England has suggested.
It recommended ICBs and PCNs audit their surgeries’ websites with its website benchmarking tool in a bid to address digital inequalities among their patients.
It forms a key recommendation in NHS England’s guidance for PCNs and ICBs to help in reducing digital exclusion in general practice.
NHS England said in its guidance: ‘GP practices need to make their websites highly accessible and usable so as many patients as possible can find what they need quickly and easily.
‘If a patient has a good experience using the website, they will be more likely to use it again. ICBs could lead improvement work in their footprint to make practice websites more usable and accessible.’
It comes after members of the House of Lords advised that eliminating the risk of digitally excluding some patients could also bring about ‘significant’ cost savings for the NHS.
In June, NHS England launched a GP website audit tool to help practices determine whether it meets contractual requirements laid out in the GP contract.
And research from Future Health found that nearly a third of GP practice websites are difficult for patients to use.
NHS England also advised PCNs to support their digital and transformation leads to identify local cohorts likely in need of extra support by drawing on an analysis of practices’ data.
And the guidance pushed for PCNs to strengthen their relationships with VCSE organisations which might offer support for digital access.
Digital and transformation leads were added to the additional roles reimbursement scheme (ARRS) in September ‘to optimise new technology and other initiatives’ across PCNs. Our sister title Pulse PCN explains how best to utilise them.