From health and fitness dominated apps to a growth in remote monitoring (for example, through biosensing) and consultation to the development of robotic technologies to support home-based care, there is a vast array of digital technologies that can support health and wellbeing.
Insofar as such technologies aim to move users from the 'deficit approach' to one of enabling people to live healthier and more independent lives, there are clear synergies with 'e-health' and the NHS Five Year Forward View’s (5YFV) emphasis on prevention and self-management. Yet, the UK lags behind many other European countries with respect to the adoption of digital technologies. Moreover, as most are purchased on a self-funded basis, there are significant inequalities in patient and carer access to technology.
One factor hindering the roll-out of digital technologies is a lack of evaluative evidence of their impacts. NHS England has taken steps to support the adoption of technology-enhanced care, including the establishment of the National Information Board. To date, however, the NHS Digital Apps Library offers only a small selection of apps, a subset of which has been 'NHS Approved' (meaning there is clinical evidence of improved outcomes). Part of the problem, of course, is that, unlike the pharmaceutical industry, digital technology companies are often not familiar with the technology appraisal process. There are, moreover, methodological challenges to evaluating digital interventions, such as the risk of contamination in trials through exposure to other interventions. It is likely that alternative study designs to traditional RCTs will be required if the current lack of evidence on clinical outcomes and the cost-effectiveness of digital and other new technologies is to be addressed.
One of the aims of EPIC (E-health Productivity and Innovation in Cornwall) is to help the companies we will be working with in Cornwall to develop ways of appraising their products that will complement the needs of NHS and Social Care commissions to demonstrate quality and value. Is there scope for developing appraisal toolkits in the grey area between medical devices and software/apps (including telecare innovations and robotic technologies)?
Discussing this is the aim of this brown bag session presented by Professor Sheena Asthana and Dr Deb Shenton.
The session is designed to be a flexible, creative and interactive session, in which people with an interest in and/or experience of 'evaluating' health and social care interventions are invited to share their knowledge and ideas with the EPIC team.
At a time when health and social care budgets are severely constrained, there is an urgent need for better evidence on ways of achieving quality and cost-effectiveness. Supporting the development of evidence exploring the potential benefits of health technologies with respect to strengthening prevention, promoting independence, improving patient outcomes and reducing demands on service use could make an important contribution to this end. We hope that you will be able to join us in this interactive session.
This event is aimed at University of Plymouth staff and students. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to book your place.