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Free, on demand access to local NHS services for residents of Barking Riverside

Olivia, a virtual health assistant, triages patients symptoms and connects to most appropriate care pathway.

In partnership with Britannia Pharmacy and NHS England, today we're launching a campaign introducing a new healthcare triage service to the residents of Barking Riverside, with the introduction of an app, Ask NHS, powered by Sensely.

Ask NHS is a simple mobile online solution that provides improved access to local NHS services, such as appointment booking and 111, and is aligned with the GP Forward View online consultation requirements. Care City’s new poster and leaflet campaign across Barking Riverside endeavours to introduce patients to Olivia, a virtual health assistant, and encourage them to access her healthcare advice via an electronic tablet available at Britannia Pharmacy in The Rivergate Centre. This virtual assistant provides trusted advice for urgent, but non-life threatening emergencies, connecting patients to the most appropriate care pathway.

Barking Riverside has been selected by NHS England to be part of their national Healthy New Town (HNT) Programme. This new innovation is part of the HNT Programme’s delivery plan to design a new model of care for Barking Riverside. Pharmacy is an excellent first point of contact for patients suffering from minor ailments or illnesses, or for patients requiring advice. With Nurse Olivia, the offer from our local pharmacies in Barking and Dagenham is greatly expanded.

Benefits of this new service include:

  • Reduced waiting times for medical advice - Patients are directed to the right health service, at the right time, in the right place, reducing pressure on GP practices.
  • Self-care powered by NHS Choices – With Ask NHS, patients have multiple resources available at their fingertips, and are able to easily browse information and guidance provided by NHS Choices.
  • Easily find health services - Patients can find opening times and locations of their local healthcare services.
  • Information Governance - Ask NHS is built on a foundation of robust IG policies and is cyber security and safeguarding compliant.

John Craig, Chief Executive, Care City commented “We are delighted that we are gaining commitment from local pharmacies to use technology and offer new services to benefit themselves, their patients and the NHS. Ask NHS is the next step for local patients to access appropriate NHS services and reduce demand on GPs. Sharing the information provided at the online consultation with a patients GP does then offer a connected service, ensuring visits that are made to the GP are efficient and effectual”.  He continued “when the Healthy New Towns team spoke to local people, it was clear that the time taken to get an appointment at the local surgery was seen as an area of concern, so we really hope the introduction of Olivia begins to tackle this to some extent for residents. We are really interested to understand how much impact technology like this can have for local people, so we will be evaluating the success of this project as well as speaking to local people about their experiences”.

Claude Pereira, Clinical and Quality Assurance Pharmacist, Britannia Pharmacy commented “For many with smartphones, accessing health apps is not uncommon. However we have high rates of digital exclusion for older people in Barking and by offering them access to an electronic tablet or smartphone and wifi at Britannia Pharmacy it overcomes this challenge to the adoption of digital innovation and enables them the access to health care services that they are entitled to”.