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Digital inclusion for health and social care

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A guide to help healthcare providers, commissioners, and designers create products and services which are inclusive of all types of user, and accessible to those with additional needs.

Principles of digital inclusion

  1. The NHS, and the wider health and care system, is committed to delivering information and services digitally wherever appropriate.  
  2. For patients, digital health can mean better access to information and care, increased convenience, and more opportunities for greater control of their  own health and shared care. 
  3. For the health and care system digital health can mean more effective delivery of care, better outcomes and reduced costs.
  4. However many of the people who could most benefit from digital services are the least likely to be online. One in five people lack basic digital skills and one in eleven people have never been online. These are likely to be older, less educated and in poorer health than the rest of the population.
  5. Local health and care services should take into account the needs of people who may be digitally excluded.
  6. There is a strong business case for the benefits of improving digital inclusion.
  7. Health and care organisations can work with a range of community partners to improve digital inclusion.
  8. This guide includes a range of resources which can help commissioners and providers to take action locally.

Who this guide is for

This guide to digital inclusion is aimed at local health and care organisations to help them to take practical steps to support digital inclusion in their communities.

It should be relevant to:

  • commissioners of health and care services, including clinical commissioning groups – so that they can take into account the needs of local populations who may be digitally excluded
  • sustainability and transformation partnerships and emerging integrated care systems – so that they can ensure that digital inclusion is central to the design of future services
  • providers of health and care services – so that they can ensure that services delivered digitally are as inclusive as possible
  • local authorities and voluntary organisations – so that they can make the most of partnerships with the health and care sector to improve digital inclusion

How this guide can help

The guide is intended to help you to understand:

  • what we mean by digital inclusion
  • who is likely to be digitally excluded and the barriers they may face
  • why digital inclusion matters in health and care
  • the benefits of supporting people to get online
  • practical steps you can take to support digital inclusion locally
  • the tools you can use to commission, provide and evaluate digital inclusion support
  • resources for developing digital skills of health and care staff, carers and patients

This guide is part of the NHS Empower the Person roadmap for digital health and care services.

An infograph illustrating the timeline for delivery of digital health and care services. It illustrates what is available now, plus what is scheduled for Quarter 1 2018/2019, Quarter 2 2018/2019, Quarters 3 and 4 2018/2019 and for 2019/2020.


Last edited: 22 March 2019 10:14 am