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RCP membership survey on digital health

Please note: the survey is now closed

Healthcare is increasingly digitally delivered, and within 5 years all routine care will be delivered through digital clinical systems. The NHS Long Term Plan aims to harness digital development to improve health and care, to deliver services in a sustainable way and transform patient experiences of care delivery.

Digital health means different things to different people. It’s easy to conflate digital health with technology, but digital health also encompasses the processes that embed that technology into clinical pathways – and the people that use it or are affected by it. Digital health is just healthcare that uses digital clinical systems to deliver care. Patients and staff are central and are affected by digital systems and processes.

Digital technology holds much promise for providing patients with more control over their health. However, patients tell us that it is important that the digital tools they use are trusted and recommended by the clinicians who care for them. This offers the most reliable way of increasing uptake of those tools.

We also need to optimise the use of data from routine healthcare delivery to generate evidence that transforms and improves services for the benefit of patients and clinical teams. The concept of Learning Health Systems has developed over the past decade, in which digital clinical systems make data available on a continuous basis, providing clinical teams with continuous access to data and the tools to analyse data to support them to shape better care. It is increasingly important that clinical teams can use digital clinical systems and that they can influence their design to enable the full benefit of these systems to be realised.

Anne Kinderlerer

Digital health means different things to different people. It’s easy to conflate digital health with technology, but digital health also encompasses the processes that embed that technology into clinical pathways – and the people that use it or are affected by it.

From our conversations with members and fellows across the UK over the past year, it is clear that some are at the forefront of delivering digital health by developing innovative tools or finding novel ways to address the digital exclusion of their patients. However, many more are struggling to keep pace with digital developments in their local organisation and to feel confident that the digital systems they are using are helping to deliver the best possible care for their patients.

The survey results will inform the RCP’s digital health work for the next 2 years. We want to support those of you who may be at risk of digital exclusion, and those of you who are developing careers in digital health. 

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