Using digital services to manage health

Unlike most industries across the world, the public health industry has been relatively slow off the mark in developing its services to be inline with the ever growing technical / digital world we live in, but things are starting to change. During 2015, we have been involved in more and more work, where health organisations are looking to how they can engage with patients better in this tech/consumer minded environment.

Much has been made about NHS Choices and ‘Fitness and Wellbeing’ apps that have become the trend over the last few years, but do they actually address medical needs and health conditions? We wanted to know “ What, Why and how do people use the web to look after their health? What information do people want other than the ability to book an appointment on line? Or is the ability to google about the latest illness or health worry enough?

To start our thought process rolling, we decided to ask two of our work experience team, Kate Higton (16) and Lucia Butler (18) who are from a generation who have been brought up expecting everything to be available online, to do a short piece of research in this area. We asked them, not only to research and rate health websites but also to interview a wider age group in order to try to build a picture of what technology is used or what people would consider using and why.

The team decided to focus their research on people with an existing medical condition (either mental or physical) and the tools they needed to maintain their health. Through interviews, surveys and qualitative research they produced this report– Using digital services to manage Health and Wellbeing which we feel makes interesting reading and has given us a starting snapshot (behind the hype) of how, what and why patients do and don’t want to use technology to support their medical wellbeing.