Report puts digital health tech in the spotlight

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A new report is highlighting how technology, including social media, is helping patients in Staffordshire take control of their health.

The ‘Spotlight on Digital Health’ is now available on North Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent CCGs’ websites.

Many people are now living with long-term conditions such as diabetes or heart conditions. These need to be monitored regularly and lifestyle changes often need to be made to help. This is increasingly being done through app-based technology using a patient’s own mobile phone.

A study using funding from The Good Things Foundation has provided insight into how local people use the technology available.

Dr Ruth Chambers OBE is clinical lead for technology enabled care services, digital workstream with the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent health and care partnership Together We’re Better. She was also previously clinical chair of Stoke-on-Trent CCG.

She said: “The Good Things Foundation wave 2 Pathfinder programme has helped us to understand how people use the technology that most of us carry around in our pockets. It enables us to suggest ways in which people can take more control of their own health and understand their long-term

“We don’t expect them to do this alone – we provide guidance and support on becoming more digitally aware. This technology is an addition to support provided by local clinicians – and a very welcome one.”

The NHS is also creating ‘communities’ of patients with similar health conditions who can keep in touch to share support and advice – under the guidance of health professionals.

Hundreds of patients have also joined closed Facebook groups, where they can discuss their condition and its management. The groups are managed by Stoke-on-Trent company Wavemaker, and moderated by specially-trained nurses to ensure advice is safe and appropriate. Wavemaker have also run a mobile digital ‘classroom’ that helps educate people on health-tech.

Dr Chambers explained: “By keeping these Facebook pages closed, we can ensure they represent a place of safety and support. We take the best of social media and screen out the aspects that we all know can be really unhelpful.”

Other digital resources available through this project include the PatientTech website – a mine of information about managing health conditions with the help of technology.