Digital inclusion in health and care

Good Things Foundation has published a new report on lessons learned from the NHS Widening Digital Participation Programme.

The three-year programme was completed in March. 

Good Things Foundation says, since then, the national and community response to COVID-19 has revealed digital as a universal need. 

This new report brings together the lessons learned, practical tips and recommendations from the Widening Digital Participation programme including:

  • Recognise digital access and skills as a social determinant of health
  • Co-design digital health services
  • Improve digital health literacy in the population
  • Develop ‘digital health hubs’ to improve inclusion
  • Build trust and relationships with poorly-served groups
  • Harness the benefits of digital for health and wellbeing
  • Improve digital skills in the health and care workforce
  • Embed digital inclusion in health, care and wellbeing strategies

Click on the link below to read the report in full.

Good Things Foundation

Digital health and care and COVID-19

The Professional Records Standards Body (PRSB) has published a new report examining the digital transformation of health and care services during the pandemic.

Digital Health and Care and COVID-19 includes recommendations on how the system can use the lessons from COVID-19 to advance digital change, while maintaining safety and prioritising citizen’s needs.    

It is based on consultation with more than 100 PRSB members and partners including the royal colleges, social care system leaders, healthcare providers, patient groups, regulators and others. This led to three key themes:

  • The role of digital in responding to the pandemic
  • The opportunities and challenges encountered and the lessons for the future
  • Views on ways in which PRSB and its members can influence this agenda

The report makes a series of recommendations on areas including harnessing the current enthusiasm for digital care, raising awareness of self management and remote monitoring and improving information collection.

Click on the link below to read the report in full.


Inquiry: Long-term impact of living online

The Parliamentary COVID-19 committee is currently accepting evidence for an inquiry into the impact of 'living online'.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated our rapidly increasing reliance on digital technology.

This inquiry will look at the long-term impact this may have on our social and economic wellbeing and, in particular, on four key drivers of wellbeing: physical health, mental health, social interaction and quality of working life.

Submissions which answer questions in the call to evidence can be submitted until Friday 11 December.

UK Parliament

How one NHS trust moved to virtual outpatient appointments

In this article, Martin Sadler, chief information officer at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, explains how digital is making it easier for patients to access services.

He says moving 90% of outpatient appointments to telephone and video has made it far easier for patients to access services in one of the most deprived parts of England.

The trust had already begun planning for video consultations prior to the pandemic.

Martin outlines how the planned rollout was accelerated during COVID-19 and led by the Patient Access Team.

Digital Health

Study: Health literacy and adherence to infection control among healthcare workers

A study has examined the associations between health literacy and the eHealth Literacy Scale (eHEALS) and adherence to infection prevention and control, lifestyle changes, and suspected COVID-19 symptoms among healthcare workers during lockdown.

It found gender, ability to pay for medication, profession, and epidemic containment experience were independent predictors of health literacy and eHEALS scores. 

Healthcare workers with with higher health literacy or eHEALS scores had better adherence to infection, prevention and control procedures, healthier lifestyles, and a lower likelihood of suspected COVID-19 symptoms.

Authors concluded efforts to improve health literacy and eHEALS scores can help to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and minimise its consequences.


Keeping the Friends and Family Test going during COVID-19

NHS England has published case studies of hospital trusts which continued to use the Friends and Family Test (FFT) during the pandemic.

University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust considered it essential to maintain a measure of the quality of patient experience, especially given the pause on other feedback mechanisms.

Using FFT the trust was able to identify and take measures to address concerns around:

  • Visiting restrictions
  • Communication between patients, families and clinical teams
  • Discharge and anxieties about people going home to households with people shielding

Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust used the test to gain insight into its response to the pandemic.

The trust carried out a review of more than 8,000 outpatient FFT responses collected between 15 March and the end of May.

Patients felt video or telephone appointments were safer, saved time, removed the need to find and pay for parking, allowed more time to talk about their concerns, were better for the environment and more likely to be on time.

NHS England

Call for research into physical and mental effects of Long COVID

The NIHR and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) have launched a £20m joint call to fund research into the longer-term physical and mental effects of COVID-19 in non-hospitalised individuals.

The new funding is available for research which aims to understand and address the effects of Long COVID.

This work will complement other major studies already jointly funded by UKRI and NIHR focusing on Long COVID in hospitalised patients.

Projects are expected to start early in 2021 and may be funded for up to three years in the first instance. The call will close on 9 December.


'We need to change the hierarchy of evidence-based medicine'

The Patient Experience Library is continuing to call for patient experience to be taken more seriously.

An article by director Miles Sibley, published in the BMJ, suggests some ways in which national NHS bodies could respond including:

  • Parity of access to patient experience evidence alongside medical evidence
  • Research prioritisation
  • Professional development for clinicians
  • Analytical tools for patient experience staff


NICE publishes new COVID-19 rapid guideline

NICE has published a new rapid guideline on reducing the risk of venous thromboembolism in over 16s with COVID-19.

The guideline covers pharmacological VTE prophylaxis for patients being treated for COVID-19 pneumonia. 

It includes patients receiving treatment in hospital or in a community setting such as a hospital at home service or COVID-19 virtual ward. 

The guideline applies to all patients with COVID-19 pneumonia, including those who have other conditions.


COVID-19 vaccine guidance for health and social care workers

Public Health England (PHE) has published new guidance to support frontline workers in delivering the coronavirus vaccine to the most vulnerable.

There is a new chapter in Immunisation against infectious disease, also known as the Green Book, a guide for public health professionals administering vaccines in the UK. 

The new COVID-19 chapter includes:

  • Guidance on the storage, dosing and schedule of the vaccines
  • Provisional priority groups recommended by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation to help the NHS with its deployment planning
  • Advice on vaccination of high risk groups
  • Guidance on potential adverse effects, which current evidence suggests are mild and short-term


Research: Coronavirus and people with learning disabilities

The Scottish Commission for Learning Disability and University of Glasgow are taking part in a UK-wide research project on the impact of COVID-19 on people with learning disabilities.

Research will focus on the wellbeing, health, and social effects, and look to uncover what factors are associated with better outcomes.

The project is hoping to speak to 200 people with mild/moderate learning disabilities who would be willing to be interviewed either independently, or with support. 

Interviews will be undertaken with the same cohort three times across the 12-month project. Initial interviews will take place between now and mid-December.

Anyone who lives in Scotland and wants to take part or find out more can email [javascript protected email address].

For more information and to read the learning so far, visit the project's webpage by clicking on the link below.

The University of Warwick

Health Systems Evidence and Social System Evidence added to Cochrane Library

The Cochrane Library has added two McMaster Health Forum evidence bases to its searches.

Health Systems Evidence is a comprehensive, free access point for evidence to support policy makers, stakeholders and researchers interested in how to strengthen or reform health systems or get cost-effective programs, services and products to those who need them.

Social Systems Evidence is a comprehensive, free access point for evidence about strengthening 20 government sectors and program areas beyond health.

Both can be found by clicking on the 'more' tab on the search page which is linked below.

Cochrane Library

New website aims to improve health outcomes using data dashboards

A new website has been launched to showcase the national Value in Health programme in Wales.

It is hoped the programme of work will help achieve a value-based healthcare approach across NHS Wales and support the four principles of prudent healthcare.

The vision is to work collaboratively with organisations to improve the health outcomes that matter most to the people of Wales. 

PIF member NHS Wales Informatics Service is actively supporting the programme through the development of information products and analysis, bringing together nationally collected data from patients, clinical outcomes, patient reported outcomes and financial costing.

NHS Wales

Patient Solidarity Day 2020

Patient Solidarity Day takes place on Friday 4 December with the theme 'Building back better health systems post COVID-19.

The day is an opportunity for IAPO members, patients, healthcare organisations, policy-makers, institutions, industry and other stakeholders to come together to call for patient engagement and co-creation.

Get involved on social media using #PSD2020.


Webinar: Men's Health in Numbers

Men's Health Forum in Ireland (MHFI) is hosting a free webinar to mark its 21st birthday and launch two Men's Health in Numbers publications.

The research project, funded by the Health Service Executive (HSE) Health and Wellbeing, sought to produce:

  • A substantive trends report giving a comprehensive overview of key health and wellbeing statistics on men and boys on the island of Ireland and looking at how these have changed since 2004
  • A short, infographic-driven report card highlighting contemporary headline statistics on men and boys in the Republic of Ireland.

Both will be discussed at the webinar from 11am on 10 December. Click on the link below to book.