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Free training to help patients use digital technology to access healthcare

by Julie Griffiths
11 October 2023

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Free resources are available for GP practices wishing to support patients learn how to use online health services, such as the NHS App or video calls with GPs.

They include free bite-sized courses for beginners that cover online basics to help patients overcome barriers to using digital technology.

The resources, provided by national charity Good Things Foundation, were flagged in a recent NHS England publication, Inclusive digital healthcare: a framework for NHS action on Digital Inclusion, which builds on previous guidance on the subject.

In July, NHS England published a guide for GP practices, primary care networks (PCNs), and integrated care boards (ICBs), that includes 10 top tips for strengthening digital inclusion, particularly among under-served and marginalised communities.

And in June, it launched a GP website audit tool to help surgeries improve their practice websites.

Around 10 million adults in the UK lack basic digital skills, according to the latest report.  

Often this is shaped by factors, such as literacy, language, income, age, and disability. For some people, digital skills barriers are compounded by limited access to a suitable device, or not having enough connectivity.

The report said that some GP practices provide patients and carers with digital access and skills support in so-called ‘digital health hubs’ while others signpost resources available from community organisations or elsewhere. This includes using bite-sized courses called Learn My Way, provided by the Good Things Foundation. These courses cover topics, including how to use GP and NHS online services, staying safe, and video calling. 

In 2019, a survey found 83% of people who used the Learn My Way training said they felt more confident about using digital tools to manage their health. 

The charity, which supports organisations to address digital exclusion in their communities, has also been involved in running digital health hubs as part of the NHS Widening Digital Participation Programme. These hubs are aimed at improving health and wellbeing by supporting people to have the skills, confidence, motivation, and connectivity to do more with digital.

An early evaluation of digital health hub pilots shows the benefits of this approach in communities, and they are being rolled out in some areas such as Leeds.

The charity also offers a ‘how to’ guide for creating a digital health hub, as well as free resources, training and meet-ups for those delivering digital inclusion.

In May, new e-learning modules on digital triaging were launched as part of the Administrative Triage using Digital Tools in General Practice programme, which was developed by NHS England and the Practice Managers Association.