Project Details

NHS Widening Digital Participation

Digital health empowers patients and saves the NHS millions

By Good Things Foundation

Project URL:
Project Twitter: @goodthingsfdn

Organisations Involved Good Things Foundation

  • Digital Engagement
  • Health
  • Internet
  • Mobile

There are 12.6 million people in the UK who lack basic digital skills, and the heaviest users of the NHS are most likely to be among them. Unfortunately, digital exclusion and poor health go hand in hand: a hospital ward in a deprived area is more likely to have patients who don’t access the internet and whose life expectancy is lower than average. 

Good Things Foundation, a digital inclusion charity, led a £2.7 million three-year digital participation programme with the NHS from 2013 to 2016 to improve digital skills and health literacy of groups most affected by health inequality. 

The programme used local community networks in some of the hardest-to-reach areas of the UK to engage people with online content focusing on health and digital literacy. 82% of the participants fell into at least one category of social exclusion, 60% were receiving benefits and 44% were disabled. 

Participants learned how to find information on the NHS Choices website and how to access GP services online, while improving their digital literacy using Good Things Foundation’s Learn My Way training website. 

221,941 people were taught how to use digital health resources over the course of the project and 8,138 volunteers were trained as a result. NHS and Good Things Foundation say they saved £3.7 million in GP visits and £2.3 million A&E visits, which presented a return on investment of £6.40 for every £1 spent on the programme. 

Anecdotes from happier patients abound. 66-year-old Betty Fitzpatrick said that “when they told me I could order my prescriptions to get delivered, I thought it was amazing – and I couldn’t believe how easy it was! It means I don’t have to get myself out and about every time I need to top up on my tablets.” 

Read the full report at

Image courtesy of NHS Widening Digital Particpation

Last updated: 13th of October, 2016

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