In a digital age with 9 out of 10 households having internet access via computers or smart devices, and 99% of all 18-34 year olds using the internet, with over 87% of all purchases made online, and 7 out of 10 people completing banking online we are expectant and reliant on online services for in many aspects of our lives.
The availability of online health and care services is currently very limited and sporadic, and users have limited confidence in where to find accurate and up to date information regarding health and care.
As we continue to see the rise in the availability of online services, it is paramount that health and care organisations start to consider the impact that enhanced access to services can have in terms of providing benefit to the population that they service. It is also clear that the digital agenda has a significant role to play in the sustainability and transformation of health and care; in order to do this we need to make some vital changes, including providing enhancements to traditional health and care services through the availability and exploitation of digital.
In Nottinghamshire it is our vision to transform the way people experience access to health and care services, by providing digital health and care services that connect them to the information and services they need, when they need them in one place. We want to enable people to have access to health and care in a convenient and coordinated way, promoting independence through the digital tools we are all familiar with in other aspects of our daily lives.
Through the use of technology we aim to provide the population of Nottinghamshire with access to key information to manage their health and wellbeing proactively, reduce avoidable appointments across health and care, enabling access to services from the most appropriate care setting, communicate with health and care professionals in a more convenient way and access community and social based interventions in their local area.
By providing the digital tools people need to access health and care services and information, we will empower and enable our population to:
- adopt preventative approaches within their lifestyles
- have easier and more convenient access to key information to enable them to better support themselves at home
- manage and control long term conditions better
- access more convenient methods of consultation with health and social care services
- reduce the need to physically attend appointments, where there is no need to do so
- access peer to peer support networks
Nottinghamshire is a pilot area for the NHS app which enables our population to book GP appointments, order repeat prescriptions and view key information within their GP record as well as set organ donation preferences and set information sharing preferences for research and planning. The app is now available to download via the AppStore (for Apple devices) and PlayStore (for Android) and is live for all GP practices in Nottinghamshire.
But is this enough…?
After extensive research and feedback on what matters to our population, our ambitions are much bigger than this and we have plans to enhance the functionality of the NHS App through additional local digital services. We understand that people want a single App to manage all their health and care needs and over the next 12 months will be working very hard to develop these enhancements based on what matters to our population.
Watch this space…
We understand that 9 out of 10 households have access to the internet and 89% of those households use the internet for day to day activities at least weekly. However, there is also a % of the population that do not have access to, the skills or confidence to use online digital services but have the desire do to so.
Whilst overall Nottinghamshire has a low – medium likelihood of digital exclusion, predominantly following the level of deprivation, we are committed to supporting our population be enabled and digitally included. Area’s including the City of Nottingham, Mansfield, Ashfield, Newark and Sherwood who have a higher level of deprivation are at greater risk of being digitally excluded compared to Broxtowe, Rushcliffe and Gedling.
The challenges faced consist of both digital and social exclusion metrics, being able to overcome these barriers will deliver huge benefits not only to our population but also to our workforce in the wider health and care system. Improving our population’s digital skills and ability to access services through improved infrastructure and local amenities are key factors that need to be in place. Citizens with greater health needs including cancer patients and those with long term conditions for illnesses such as respiratory disease need to be focused on with consideration for person centred planning.
In addition to providing our population with the tools to access health and care services online; we will further support them where required to ensure they have the ability and skills to access these digital tools, utilising the offering from private and third sector organisations to improve digital inclusion and health literacy.
Through significant research with the population of Nottingham and Nottinghamshire we understand that by supporting our population through providing them with the skills that they need to access digital services we’re able to empower, enable and give them the confidence to manage their health and care needs. Whilst we recognise that not everybody would like to access health and care services digitally there is a significant number of people who have not accessed these services but would like to; 45% of people surveyed had not used digital tools to support them monitor a health condition but would like to; 54% of people had not accessed health or care appointment via video but would like to.
It is vital that we support our population to get online and utilise digital health resources to proactively manage their health and care, where they wish to make the most of online services.