A new report has outlined how health and social care providers must collaborate with users of services when designing apps, websites and other digital technologies.
The publication from VODG (Voluntary Organisations Disability Group) in partnership with the National Care Forum recommends how providers can maximise the benefits of such new approaches.
Dr Rhidian Hughes, chief executive of VODG, said: “Technology is no substitute for face-to-face support, but digital developments have a growing role in the delivery of care and support services.
“Providers who promote such innovations could also develop stronger relationships with commissioners as a result. What’s more, co-designing new technology with people is an opportunity for individuals to be better connected and exercise more control over their lives.”
The report is based on a recent workshop, which explored how people who use services contribute to technological design and are changing the delivery of social care. It expands on earlier work by VODG, which focused on the benefits of technology in a time of austerity.
Digital solutions are at the heart of the NHS Five Year Forward View and the Local Government Association’s (LGA) vision for technology underlines how information and technology will transform the delivery of health and social care services. Yet there has been little focus on how people supported by social care are actively included in designing such digital developments.
The publication sets out key recommendations to redress this imbalance, including:
— User engagement must be at the heart of designing successful solutions – it supports ownership and take up of the final product
– Technology is not an add-on, but integral to how providers improve the support and inclusion of people they work with
– Organisations do not need to be technologically advanced to create digital solutions
– If organisations jointly design and deliver shared approaches, there are potential savings to be realised through collective purchasing power.
Vic Rayner, executive director at National Care Forum, said: “This report couldn’t be more timely, as we read of the increasing emphasis on technology within ‘Next Steps for the NHS Five Year Forward View’. I think it should give us all an impetus to work together, across health and social care, to build a more tech savvy future.”