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NHS England is supporting a campaign led by Tinder Foundation to help the 9.5 million people currently lacking basic digital skills in the UK to get online to improve their health.
Get Online Week takes place this year from 12-18 October and aims to show tens of thousands of people how being online can benefit their lives in a variety of ways – not least their health.
There are currently 10.5 million adults in the UK without core digital skills and 6.5 million have never been online. Research shows that these people tend to be older, less well off, and more likely to have a disability.
Providing digital health training helps people with long term conditions to better manage their health and avoid preventable deteriorations, leading to a reduction in unnecessary GP visits and hospital admissions.
Helping people to access useful health information online allows them to quickly identify the most appropriate medical help, again leading to a reduction in inappropriate demand for healthcare services.
NHS England established the Widening Digital Participation programme in 2013 to help some of the most vulnerable people in society build confidence in using IT to improve their health knowledge and access online services such as booking appointments and ordering repeat prescriptions.
This year alone, the programme has reached over 120,000 people and by March 2016 an additional 150,000 citizens will have received digital skills training to enable them to take more control of their health and wellbeing.
Figures released by Tinder Foundation in August revealed that, since the programme begun, 34% of those trained in digital skills say they have reduced GP visits and 63% of those trained in digital skills say they have an improved diet.
Get Online week will see a 5,000-strong network of community organisations and national partners host thousands of events in community centres, libraries, jobcentres and doctors surgeries across the country to encourage people who lack the skills, or have never been online before to use the internet to its fullest.
Tim Kelsey, NHS England’s National Director for Patients and Information, said: “The information revolution has the potential to transform the NHS, but we need to ensure that nobody is left behind. Our work with the Tinder Foundation on increasing access to online health services is central to achieving our vision of a digitally enhanced healthcare system that is fully inclusive.”
Helen Milner, Chief Executive of Tinder Foundation, said: “Our aim is to ensure everyone can experience the benefits of being online. After the huge success of last year’s campaign we want to make this year even better. Whether you’re interested in holding an event, sharing the campaign with your network or simply helping a friend or family member with their digital skills, there’s a whole host of ways to get on board.”
The Widening Digital Participation programme takes forward the National Information Board strategy ‘Personalised Health and Care 2020’ enabling more people to take control of their health and care.