The Patient Coalition for AI, Data and Digital Tech in Health

As the first of its kind, the Patient Coalition for AI, Data and Digital Tech in Health unites a truly diverse group of patient groups, charities, Royal Colleges and industry with a focus on championing the patient perspective in digital health.

The Coalition will work to provide insights and influence the policymaking process to progress this agenda by: identifying gaps in the evidence and conducting research to offer novel insights on patient priorities in digital health; developing policy recommendations; and engaging with Government stakeholders and other policymakers to advocate and campaign for system improvements.

London 9th May: A recent report based on research and case studies of good practice in combatting digital health inequalities demonstrates the importance in working with patients who are digitally excluded.

The report, Putting patients first: championing good practice in combatting digital health inequalities, is the second report by the Patient Coalition for AI, Data and Digital Tech in Health. 

In recent months there has been significant Government and NHS changes, outlined in the Levelling Up the United Kingdom and Integration White Papers[1],[2], that is propelling a digital revolution within the NHS. Digitisation is now being heavily prioritised as a way to provide a more effective service and improve healthcare quality and efficiency. Nevertheless, this also means patients who are unable to access or use digital technology, face challenges when trying to access health services, thus, impeding their overall health and wellbeing.

Digital health inequalities

This report focuses on digital health inequalities and the impact that digital exclusion is having on health in the UK. It highlights different reasons for disparities in a person’s ability to access and use digital health technology and provides insights into the severity of the UK’s digital inequalities.

The report also looks at four case studies demonstrating unique ways to combat digital health inequalities and improve access, and use of digital health technology for patients. Each case study offers insights into the work being undertaken nationally and locally to address some of the biggest causes of digital health inequalities and the positive impacts that these projects provide. The four projects were: Simplifying Language Used on the NHS Website; Asha- a charity aimed at improving social mobility and digital skill development for asylum seekers; 100% Digital Leeds- a city council led project to provide support for care home residents to become comfortable with digital technology; Nailsea Place- a wellbeing and health initiative to boost individuals confidence and engage with online services.

Recommendations

The Coalition report concludes recommending that the Government and NHS should:

  1. Engage with those digitally excluded
  2. Ensure patients have a choice
  3. Ensure the language is appropriate for all audiences
  4. Learn from good practice.

Rachel Power, Chief Executive of the Patients Association, Chair of the Patient Coalition for AI, Data and Digital Tech in Health, said: “The Coalition’s new report focuses on the urgent need to combat digital health inequalities across the UK. Its publication comes as the NHS seeks to move beyond a focus on the Covid-19 pandemic and is looking to tackle growing waiting lists, and as the Government readies its Digital Health and Care Plan. We hope this report, with its examples of programmes that have reduced digital health inequalities, is helpful to the many organisations increasing their use of digital technology to ensure they keep accessibility at the forefront of the plans.”

About the Coalition

The Patients Association serves as Chair and Lexington serves as Secretariat of the Patient Coalition for AI, Data and Digital Tech in health, which receives funding through sponsorship provided by Boehringer Ingelheim. The current Members of the Coalition are:

Asthma + Lung UK
British Heart Foundation
Diabetes UK
Fight for Sight
MS Society
Parkinson’s UK
Patient Information Forum
Patient Safety Learning
Royal College of Radiologists
Royal College of Pathologists
Stroke Association

 [1] NHS Confederation (2022), The integration white paper: what you need to know. Available at:  https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1055687/joining-up-care-for-people-places-and-populations-web-accessible.pdf

[2] Levelling Up the United Kingdom. Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1052046/Executive_Summary.pdf