Promoting health through digital inclusion

Just as good health is characterised by socio-economic and demographic inequalities, there are concerns about a digital divide – for example in access to digital technologies, understanding of digital technologies and of the information provided (eHealth literacy) and the adoption of these technologies to help improve health. We are committed to understanding the causes of digital exclusion and addressing them.

Plymouth Institute of Health and Care Research is committed to understanding the causes of digital exclusion and addressing them.


This £75,000 project, co-funded by NHS Kernow Clinical and NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Groups and the South West Academic Health Science Network, explores enablers, barriers and effectiveness of the online evaluation tool, eConsult used in Cornwall and Devon. 

This project critically responds to the need for independent evaluation on online consultation tools and addresses identified limitations of existing research by exploring the perspectives of both healthcare providers and patients and its cost implications. With the implementation of eConsult at an early stage and an increasing drive towards its expansion, an accurate understanding of its effectiveness is imperative.

Dr Arunangsu Chatterjee

Centre for Health Technology Pop-up

As part of a number of projects funded by the UKRI place-based partnerships for public engagement worth £1.4million, a Centre for Health Technology pop-up was created in Stonehouse, Plymouth; one of the most deprived areas in the UK. The aim of the pop-up centre was to address health inequalities and social deprivation introducing local residents to digital technology and eHealth solutions (e.g. companion robots, apps, VR and internet-based health and welfare resources) in a building in the heart of the community.

(Willis, Jones, Asthana).

Remote Assessment and Management

There are 13.9 million people with disabilities in the UK, many of whom are physically disabled. The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent reduction in face-to-face appointments has meant people of all ages have received no rehabilitation with the need growing with recovering Covid-19 patients. In response to the crisis, clinicians have found new ways of working and are rapidly adapting and creating telerehabilitation solutions with little, specific guidance, training or support and resulting variation in approaches. This NIHR-funded project has created a telerehabilitation toolkit and training package for current and future clinicians.

 (FreemanBuckinghamMarsden, Jones, Kent, Demain, Gunn, Logan)

Remote-by-Default Care in the COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19 has transformed the way the NHS operates – for the first time people are unable to walk into a GP surgery. 

This £750,000 project, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and led by Professor Trisha Greenhalgh from the University of Oxford, investigates what will be required to scale-up and deliver better remote care. Working closely with ‘deep-end’ practices that service highly deprived populations, Rybczynska-Bunt and Byng are leading the Plymouth site which will focus on the impact of remote by default on individuals living in poverty or with complex needs.

Technology implementation and behaviour change

eCoacher (Taylor) was a multi-centred randomised controlled trial that investigated the effects of adding web-based coaching to an exercise referral scheme. We explore the role of eHealth solutions (such as apps and online group interventions) in motivating people to change health-related behaviours, such as weight loss (May, Jones, Milne-Ives M, Swancutt, Burns, Pinkney, Tarrant, Calitri, Chatterjee, Meinert), diabetes self-care (Edwards, Bradwell, Jones, Shawe) and adherence (Milne-Ives, Meinert). Meinert and Milne-Ives are also researching the use of mobile apps for health behaviour change, e.g. through their Health Education England funded evaluation of the NoObesity Professionals and NoObesity Families apps.

(Taylor, Andrade, May)