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Digital health and technology

Increasingly, digital technology such as smartphone apps and virtual reality are being used to help patients prevent, manage and recover from long term health conditions.

During the pandemic, teams are now working more remotely to reduce the risk of infection, which has required the rapid implementation of virtual consultation and rehabilitation.

It is essential that healthcare professionals select and utilise digital technology appropriately, ideally using evidenced based products that have been endorsed by the NHS or a similar body. A product must be beneficial to its user, and should also comply with UK information governance requirements, with cost and accessibility other important considerations.

Digital health technology can be used to help patients and their carers in the following ways:

  • Stimuli for skilled and functional therapy
  • Home practice
  • Assessment
  • CVD prevention and healthier lifestyles
  • Emotional well-being
  • Education
  • Social engagement and peer support

The NHS app library has been established to help inform professionals and the public, with other organisations such as ORCHA providing searches for rated apps with a site set up for physiotherapy for CSP membersAphasia software finder is an up to date website that can be used to find products relating to the condition.

Healthcare professional bodies may have codes of conduct for using technology, as may local NHS Trusts and these should be followed by clinicians.

Useful resources

National guidance

National guidance on remote working for community teams

Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists guidance on use of apps (key points)

Information on providing online services – guidance from the HCPC

Remote and virtual working

National stroke community hub with resources and a community of practice

accuRX – NHS endorsed software for remote consultations

Attend Anywhere – widely used in the NHS for video consultations

Self management

Stroke Association low level activity resources

GMNISDN suggested digital health technology products (v1.1 Oct 19)

Bridges self management resources for community rehabilitation

Physiotools – for creating home based exercise programs

Multi Device Agreements – guide to setting up devices such as tablets to reduce the cost of purchasing apps