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Why digital inclusion matters to health and social care
Find out how digital inclusion can support local health and care priorities and how policy is supporting the agenda. Get an overview of local digital roadmaps, the return on investment for the NHS as well as healthcare leaders talking about the importance of digital inclusion in transforming local services in a series of videos.
Those who are digitally excluded risk missing out on the benefits.
Evaluation of Widening Digital Participation
Evaluation of Phase One of the NHS Widening Digital Participation programme provides the most detailed analysis of the impact of increasing digital inclusion on health. Of those who were supported by the programme:
- 59% felt more confident in using online health information
- 52% feel less lonely or isolated
- 21% have had less visits to their GP for minor ailments 22% have progressed to booking GP appointments online and 20% to ordering prescriptions online
- 39% have saved time through carrying out health transactions online
This evaluation estimates a return on investment of £6.40 for every £1.00 spent by the NHS on digital inclusion support.
Read the evaluation report in full here.
Benefits for society and return on investment
Increasing digital inclusion has benefits for society as a whole as well as for the NHS. It is important to take these benefits into consideration when considering the impacts for public health.
A 2014 report from BT on valuing digital inclusion calculated the social return on investment (SROI) of digital inclusion for individuals and for workers. For individuals, getting online is worth £1,064 a year due to increased confidence, less social isolation, financial savings and opportunities in employment and leisure. For workers, getting online is worth £3,568 a year due to opportunities for remote working and increased earnings opportunities.
A 2016 analysis of Scottish data carried out by Ipsos MORI for Carnegie UK Trust illustrates how the wider societal benefits of internet use is associated with better health and wellbeing. Those who use the internet are more likely to have been to a cultural event, visited the outdoors for recreation, taken part in sport or volunteered. Conversely those who are not online are more likely to have visited their doctor once a month or more.
While there are significant benefits, remember that being online can also have downsides. Some people have been scammed or victims of cyber-crime. Others (particularly young people) have been victims of online bullying. There is an abundance of “fake news” in health with poor quality health information online. Increasingly digital skills support is focusing on helping people approach the internet critically so that they can appraise information, and mindfully so they are not overwhelmed by it.
Read more about this in Victoria Betton and James Woollard’s Teen mental health in an online world.