Key challenge: During the COVID-pandemic and likely to continue for many months afterwards, clinicians and social care workers will opt to provide healthcare remotely for individual patients, especially provision of follow-up care for long-term conditions such as diabetes, asthma, raised blood pressure.
Consequences: This remote approach will exacerbate health inequalities -especially for people who are digitally excluded with a lack of digital skills, competence, confidence, connectivity and accessibility to digital kit such as smartphones, ipads or laptops.
Opportunity: To provide a range of support for individual patients who are self or carer-rated as digitally excluded – for example webinars individualised to specific long-term health conditions and a related website with free to access help materials such as example self-management plans. These can be accessed individually with help from a carer if a person falls in the ‘digitally excluded’ category, or in groups eg local community library. It is a huge opportunity to build on the ways that the NHS and social care has turned to working remotely when warranted by the type of health and social care need in place of a usual face to face service for all.