Latest figures reveal that weekly visits to EMIS' patient services portal - Patient Access - have increased by over 60% since June, from 20,285 to over 33,000. Almost a quarter of visits are made by patients over the age of 55.
This follows recent predictions, by former RCGP chair Professor Clare Gerada, which suggest that 40% of healthcare will be accessed online by 2020.
The data indicates that fears over patient acceptance of digital services may be unfounded, and supports the view that demand for online services such as appointment booking, test results viewing, repeat medication ordering and secure records access, is high.
"In the past, one of the main concerns GP practices have expressed about enabling online patient services is that their large pool of elderly patients won't use it because they aren't internet savvy", said Neil Laycock, Managing Director at EMIS, "these latest figures show that isn't the case anymore."
The study of Patient Access users also revealed that patients of EMIS practices in the North West of England are the group most likely to make use of online services.
The research was paired with a survey of over 500 GP practices to identify the main concerns or obstacles to enabling online patient services.
The survey found that:
- Only 4% of practices feel their patients wouldn't use such services, in fact more (7%) are worried patients might abuse the offering.
- Lack of time is the main obstacle for 16% of practices.
- 16% also felt they lacked knowledge on setting up online patient services
Neil continued: "The results were interesting. Patient acceptance, or rather the perceived lack of it, has decreased as a concern and is now only an issue with 4% of practices. The more challenging obstacle is time and knowledge."
Despite this, the research revealed that wider adoption of online patient services is imminent - 60% of practices said they intend to enable Patient Access in the near future.