NHS Digital has announced five new projects that will help thousands of people in England to improve their digital health skills and improve access to technologies to support their health and care.
These new digital inclusion pathfinder projects are part of a three-year Widening Digital Participation (WDP) programme being delivered by NHS Digital, in partnership with Good Things Foundation.
20 local pathfinder projects will be delivered over 3 years across all four NHS regions to develop and pilot targeted approaches to tackling digital exclusion – particularly amongst the most vulnerable and hard to reach groups.
The first two pathfinders were announced in March this year in Sheffield and Islington and the five new projects are:
- Stoke on Trent CCG working with people who have long term cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses
- Nailsea Town Council will establish a high street digital hub to enable sharing of digital health skills between younger people and older people
- MYMUP (Making Your Mind Up) a charity in Bradford working with people with dementia, people with diabetes and young people (aged 13-25) who are carers for them
- Wakefield CCG and West Yorkshire STP investigating the potential of wearable technology for patients with vision and hearing impairments to support accessibility to health
- Seaview project in Hastings focussing on digital health inclusion for those who are homeless or insecurely housed
The first two pathfinders are a project working with young people with mental health problems in Islington CCG and a social prescribing project with Sheffield CCG, supporting older people with one or more long term conditions.
The pathfinders will develop a delivery model and toolkit for digital inclusion that is tailored to specific user needs. Good Things Foundation will develop the pathfinders through an iterative design process to test what works on the ground and develop the delivery model based on feedback from patients and healthcare professionals.
WDP programme director at NHS Digital, Nicola Gill, said: “ We are pleased to announce details of the next five digital inclusion pathfinder projects and the potential to reach and support people who will greatly benefit from being able to access digital health services and information. We will share all of the insights and learnings from the pilot projects and hope to see an increased uptake in digital technologies by those that need it the most.
Helen Milner, chief executive of Good Things Foundation, said: “It’s vital that everyone has the skills they need to be able to benefit from digital health information and services, and we know that those being left behind are already the most socially excluded. Through the Widening Digital Participation programme, we’re already learning a huge amount about the models and approaches that work for supporting the hardest to reach to improve their digital health skills, and we’re keen to continue learning and developing approaches alongside these new Pathfinders’”