17:12 09 January 2017
Starting at the end of January, 1.2 million residents of north London will trial the new NHS 111 app that uses artificial intelligence to make a diagnosis based on the patient’s symptoms. The trial, which will last for six months, is a part of a major drive to digitise the NHS.
People in north London pilot area who call 111 will be given the option of downloading the app, which officials say a supplement rather than replacement of the 111 telephone service.
However, some experts believe that such service may not be safe.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said: ‘New technological initiatives don’t suit all patients, and they don’t always save resources, despite the initial appeal of the idea.
‘Moving the NHS 111 service online – via an app or otherwise – risks alienating vulnerable patients who are perhaps elderly, or simply not tech-savvy. We question whether an app, no matter how complex, comprehensive, or “intelligent” the algorithm it uses, is qualified to decide how urgent a patient’s health complaint is, so we are pleased that this is being run as a pilot before being used more widely.’
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