Digital Inclusion in Health and Care

LTP Priority: Digital inclusion

Population Intervention Triangle: Segments (link to Section 1 PHE PBA): Service

Type of Interventions: Digital Inclusion in Health and Care

Major driver of health inequalities in your area of work

High levels of digital exclusion and digital health literacy in people from deprived and excluded communities who are also at greater risk of poorer health outcomes.

Target groups

People in deprived areas; Inclusion health groups – homeless, rough sleepers, asylum seekers, travelling community; protected groups: age, disability, ethnicity.


Digital Inclusion in Health and Care.


Technology has the potential to reduce health inequalities by enabling people to access digital health information and tools to help them to better manage their health and care. It also provides a wider platform for the NHS to reach and engage with patients from deprived areas e.g. through social media, and it offers more convenience and choice to patients who cannot or may not want to engage with health practitioners face to face e.g. homeless people and people with mental health problems or debilitating illnesses.

There is a clear and strong relationship between groups that are digitally excluded and those at greater risk of poor health.  People from excluded groups or living in deprived areas often lack the skills, ability and means to get online.  Helping them to access and use digital health services and tools can:

  • improve their health literacy & help them to better manage their health and care
  • offer them a better choice and convenience of service that suits their day to day lives
  • improve our relationships and how we communicate with patients
  • reduce the cost and burden on frontline services

NHS organizations can support digitally excluded patients by:

  • training their staff to be digital health champions who can support patients with using digital tools
  • connecting with local community organizations providing access and digital skills support e.g. libraries, Online Centre’s
  • working with and enabling local charities who already engage with deprived communities e.g. homeless charities, social housing groups, charities supporting older people etc.
  • Socially prescribing digital interventions and establishing digital health hubs in the community where people can go to get help and support to use digital health tools

In a recent evaluation of the NHS Widening Digital Participation Programme, of those who received support:

  • 59% of people were better able to access and use online health information
  • 65% felt more informed about their health
  • 51% have used the internet to explore ways to improve mental health and wellbeing (e.g. strategies for managing stress).
  • 21% made fewer GP appointments as a result of accessing online information e.g. NHS.UK

Overall digital inclusion interventions showed a return on investment of £6.40 for every £1 spent.


Evaluation of the Widening Digital Participation Programme which details the benefits of digital inclusion interventions for patients and NHS organizations.

Guidance for Commissioners

Digital Inclusion Guide and Toolkit for Health and Care

Digital Inclusion interventions – evaluations and ‘How to’ Guides:

Specific audiences