In December 2020, Innovate UK, the UK’s Innovation Agency, announced that it had approved funding for our project to assess inequality of access to NHS healthcare during the COVID-19 crisis. The consortium, led by Healthwave Limited in partnership with South West Academic Health Science Network (SWAHSN) and Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), will explore how people access digital healthcare services during the pandemic and recommend improvements. The Healthwave approach will support the formation of community resources to help resolve inequality for groups struggling to access services remotely.
Healthwave Limited are developing an innovative platform, which presents characteristics, opinions and behaviours of those members of the community who struggle to access services.
The data is presented in intuitive ways to support researchers, healthcare commissioners and policy-makers to understand patient needs more deeply, helping guide decision making based on a wide range of user data from all aspects of our community.
Dr Rehan Symonds, co-lead for the research and Director of Healthwave Limited said: ‘We are very excited to be working with SWAHSN and Somerset CCG on this important project. It will give a voice to patients who would otherwise struggle to be heard in consultations about accessing healthcare digitally. The project enables us to create a step change in the way we present insights via the HealthwaveHub, while creating a route by which resources can be targeted to ease potential issues as they are uncovered.”
Dr Hayley McBain, from SW AHSN, the other co-lead of the research added ‘This is an important project that contributes to our overall mission to accelerate the spread of innovation in healthcare. The adoption of digital services, such as online consultations or mobile apps for health information, is critical for the future management of our health services but we have a responsibility to ensure equal access to all. Currently, we know certain groups within our communities nationally are left out of the debate about how these are developed and introduced. This project will go a long way to resolving that.’
The project will take place in Bristol and Somerset and Allison Nation, Associate Director Digital Strategy, Somerset CCG commented: ‘Widening digital participation is an important step to help our communities access and use digital health services and information to benefit from their convenience. This important project uses innovative and user-centred approaches to address digital exclusion and plays a vital role in our digital strategy - keeping the 'patient voice' front and centre will help create better outcomes from digital solutions. It’s exciting to anticipate the benefits this will bring to the healthcare user community in Somerset and for the outcomes of this project to contribute more widely across the whole of the UK.’
Oliver Sleeman, Director of Healthwave said: ‘Part of the challenge of understanding patients’ opinions is to surface the information to those who need it to make decisions. The Innovate UK funding will allow us to put significant development effort into HealthwaveHub, giving commissioners and policy-makers unparalleled access to evidence-led insights.’
Healthwave Limited is a technology and consultancy company, supporting researchers, innovators and policymakers to navigate the world of digital health, using citizens insights to optimise services and support user led service design.
Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group are responsible for planning and buying healthcare services for around 580,000 people across Somerset. We are a statutory body, established under the Health and Social Care Act 2012.
We work with patients, the public, and many partners, including local hospitals, local authorities, and local voluntary and community groups. Our goal is to improve the health and wellbeing of the people of Somerset.
South West Academic Health Science Network (SW AHSN) works to transform the health and patient experience of people in South West England by accelerating the spread and adoption of innovation and quality improvement.
Innovate UK drives productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas. We connect businesses to the partners, customers and investors that can help them turn ideas into commercially successful products and services and business growth. We fund business and research collaborations to accelerate innovation and drive business investment into R&D. Our support is available to businesses across all economic sectors, value chains and UK regions. Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation. For more information visit www.innovateuk.ukri.org