Thousands of vulnerable people have been learning digital skills aimed at teaching them how to use the internet to manage their health and contact GPs, it was announced today.
The project has seen some 200,000 people have lessons on going on-line – and led to 7% of them, some 14,000, registering with GPs on-line or using on-line services before contacting a doctor.
It has been directed at people who are homeless, who are elderly or who are vulnerable and has been run by the Tinder Foundation for NHS England.
Its organisers say many participants now say they would use NHS Choices or the 111 service before going to a GP.
They cite examples of homeless people who now use on-line services. In one instance a man living in a tent suffered an anxiety condition making him too nervous to deal with GP receptionists.
Bob Gann, of NHS England, said: “As more and more health services move online, it’s imperative we support people who have the most to gain from digital, and who are at risk of being left behind.
“We are helping people manage their conditions more independently, supporting reduction of pressure on health services and optimising the use of GPs’ time.”
Speaking of the tent-dweller, Dave Edeson, Director at Inspire Communities Hull – part of the UK online centres’ network – said: “Ron suffers from particularly severe anxiety issues and dealing with receptionists that weren’t familiar with him and his situation had caused problems in the past – what may be an annoyance to some of us can be a very stressful episode for him.
“Now he’s much happier booking appointments and ordering repeat prescriptions online at his leisure. And not only is his new GP closer but he says the conversations he’s having with the doctor are making him feel much more included in decisions about his healthcare.”