Health and digital: reducing inequalities, improving society. An evaluation of the Widening Digital Participation programme
Evaluation of the Tinder Foundation and NHS England Widening Digital Participation programme, which set out to improve the digital health skills of people in hard-to-reach communities in order to help them take charge of their own heath. It aimed to ensure that health inequalities resulting from digital exclusion do not become more pronounced. The programme involved: building a Digital Health Information network of local providers who provided face-to-face support to help people improve their skills; developing digital health information; supporting people to access health information online and learn how to complete digital medical transactions; and funding Innovation Pathfinder organisations to test innovative approaches to help people improve their digital health skills. This report evaluates the key figures and learning from the final year of the project and also provides a summary of the key findings across the three-year programme. It discusses the scale and impact of behaviour change on frontline services; priority audiences participating, including people with dementia and people with learning disabilities; and new models of care. The evaluation found that during the duration of the project 221,941 people were trained to use digital health resources. This has resulted in more people using the internet as their first port of call for information, and potential savings from reduced GP and A&E visits. The report estimates that the combined annual cost savings of reduced visits to GPs and A&E comes to approximately £6 millon against an NHS investment of £810,000 in year three.