Digital health technologies provide us with the information and tools to help us to better manage our health and care. The Widening Digital Participation (WDP) programme was set up to make sure that everyone can access and benefit from them. The focus for phase 2 of the programme has been to invest in projects that help us to truly understand the barriers and challenges to digital inclusion for the most vulnerable and the ways that we can help them to participate. From design to delivery, we want to make sure that we are considering the needs of the furthest first.
Our amazing partner, Good Things Foundation, joined us in April 2017 bringing with them a wealth of experience and knowledge to help us achieve that aim. Since then, they have worked with us to deliver 12 digital inclusion pathfinder projects across the country, exploring needs and testing solutions to digitally enable people including the homeless, those with disabilities and people from the travelling community. These pioneering projects are already making an impact in their local areas and our plan now is to share everything that we are learning and to scale what works. I'm really looking forward to the next year of the project and continuing this great work with the team from Good Things.
Since I first began working on the NHS WDP project, I've known the importance of making sure that everyone has the opportunity to access health care in a way that works for them.
Visiting our pathfinder projects and talking to the people they work with has really driven this home to me. From social prescribing of digital skills, to building online peer support communities, the design of all of our pathfinder projects has been based on collaboration and co-design with the very people who will be benefiting from these services. The people have spoken and one thing is clear - to move forward into the future of healthcare we'll need to incorporate digital into our everyday health management.
As Juliet Bauer, Chief Digital Officer at NHS England, says "Technology is here to extend humanity not replace it."