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Evidence and consultations

Ensuring digitally enabled health care is equitable and effective for all

Policy-makers should act to improve people’s experience of digital health and care services, to reduce inequalities and to ensure everyone is able to choose and use digitally enabled health and care services.

Key messages

  • National policy needs to encourage digitally enabled services but not to the exclusion of more traditional in-person services.

  • Digital and in-person delivery should be combined to offer services that work for the local population and its evolving health and care needs.

To achieve this policy-makers should:

  • support digital-first or digital-only services to have physical and low-tech alternatives

  • incentivise and support suppliers to provide technology that mitigates digital exclusion

  • through funding and support, encourage the exploration and use of technology to narrow the gaps in inequalities

  • work with cross-government partners to tackle systemic barriers to access to digital services.

The new operating model between central and local leaders in health and care is still developing so the balance of roles and levers used at each level of the system will continue to change. As those roles become clearer, national policy-makers should ensure they use the levers available to support and enable ICSs to have the resources, capacity and capability to:

  • develop and maintain hubs of best practice at system or place level, hubs formed from local partnerships to share best practice within and between systems

  • co-ordinate and develop local initiatives to provide devices, data and digital skills to those with limited or no access.