NHS trials digital health checks

The NHS is trialling a ‘digital health check’ system that could reduce pressure on GPs and make healthcare more accessible. 

Over 2,000 people have been invited to participate in the trial across three GP surgeries in Cornwall, with those who see results indicating an underlying health condition being followed up by their GP. It is part of the government’s plan to digitise the NHS Health Check, which is given to adults in England aged between 40 and 74. 

Neil O’Brien, the Minister for Public Health, spoke about the importance of a health check in identifying possible health issues, he said: ‘Innovation is key to a modern, forward-looking National Health Service, and this trial will help us understand what a new digital NHS Health Check could look like in the years to come.’ 

He added: ‘During the pandemic people got used to doing tests at home and getting their results online, so this trial is an opportunity for us to apply some of the lessons we learnt during COVID-19 and improve the way we deliver healthcare.’ 

A digitised version of the check involves people completing a questionnaire at home and using a special kit to take their own blood sample as well as having their blood pressure checked at a pharmacy or GP waiting room.

person wearing lavatory gown with green stethoscope on neck using phone while standing

Earlier this year the government announced its plan for a digital revolution within health and social care in the UK including further use of virtual consultations. 

According to the government, the national health checks could avoid at least 650 premature deaths and detect 20,000 cases of kidney disease or diabetes each year. It is hoped that alongside freeing up GP time, digitising the checks could encourage a higher take up amongst those eligible. 

Cornwall Council’s Portfolio Holder for Adults and Public Health, Cllr Dr Andy Virr, said: ‘We know there are avoidable differences in people’s health across our communities and cardiovascular disease still has a big impact on people in Cornwall. 

‘So by making health checks like this easier to access and more convenient we can hopefully prevent more serious illnesses and identify people who may be at risk of stroke or heart attack earlier.’ 

Results from the initial trial will inform the development of a national version of the digital health check.

Photo: National Cancer Institute


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