Sensely’s “Ask NHS” App Shows Evidence of Channel Shift and Patient Engagement

Sensely, a digital health company with operations in both London and San Francisco, announced initial results of its popular virtual health assistant app, Ask NHS. Available for free on both iOS and Android, Ask NHS was launched one year ago, and has proven popular with patients who need advice when they have an urgent healthcare concern. Ask NHS is now the most frequently used triage app for navigating NHS services.

Ask NHS quickly and easily allows patients to perform the following functions:

  • Locate self-care information
  • Book a doctor’s appointment with participating providers
  • Access a directory of local healthcare services
  • Check symptoms and receive advice on next steps

The service, which was initially trialed in the 4.5 million citizen West Midlands region, now has more than 100,000 members and is being deployed across additional UK regions. Ask NHS is currently ranked in the top 10 for UK medical apps, according to market intelligence platform SimilarWeb, and has garnered enthusiastic user reviews, with a current rating of 4.6 out of 5 on the UK app store.

Post-usage surveys show similar user engagement, with a majority of surveyed users rating Ask NHS 8 or higher on a 1-10 scale in response to the question: How likely are you to recommend Ask NHS to your friends and family? Qualitative feedback has also been strong, with particularly positive response to Ask NHS’s ease of use and convenience.

Rachael Ellis, the lead NHS official who coordinated the procurement process on behalf of the trial region, commented, “The Ask NHS app is a really useful alternative for patients who need to obtain urgent advice on their health. They can receive advice 24 hours a day wherever they are and without them having to wait for or attend a GP appointment or going to A&E unless this is really necessary. This reduces the demand on GPs and on A&E departments so that they can concentrate on helping people with more complex needs and saves patients time and money.”

By creating a safe, reliable, and conversational digital access point for UK citizens, Ask NHS is able to deliver self-care transactions that cost the NHS a fraction of traditional telephony services, such as the widely used 111 service. In addition, according to the post-usage survey data, Ask NHS can save the NHS approximately 14% of its spend by shifting patient utilization towards lower cost, more efficient services.

“An exciting aspect of these results is the aggregate channel shift, which helps enable the NHS to continue its mission of delivering world-class care for all its citizens, even at a time of increasing strain on the organization,” said Adam Odessky, CEO and co-founder of Sensely. “Digital channels, when combined with a conversational user experience and clinically-validated health guidance, can have a transformative effect on large populations, enhancing patient satisfaction without compromising empathy.”