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Digital transformation legacy will require good evidence

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Jenny Thomas

Programme Director, DigitalHealth.London

If the legacy of the pandemic is to include the digital transformation of health and social care services, generating and using good evidence will be vital.

The digital health sector has been developing standards and frameworks for evidence generation for years. However, defining what good evidence looks like is still complex and challenging.

Good evidence enables digital health to be implemented at scale and make the biggest and most effective impact possible. It should ensure industry can demonstrate products are clinically effective, safe, empower patients and offer potential cost savings. It should also be conducted in a way that has a measurable impact on decision-making in the sector.

COVID-19: Evidence in action

Thousands of GP practices implemented virtual consultation platforms to enable millions of people to access their local GP from home. Although evidence supporting the use of online consultation has been emerging for years, we should now begin to see evaluation of the technology in wide-scale use. This should allow heath and care organisations to make informed decisions about their future use of these technologies.

Good evidence enables digital health to be implemented at scale and make the biggest and most effective impact possible.

Having spent some time using virtual consultations, many clinicians may now be far more supportive of using beyond the pandemic. The insights evaluation of patient experience could show many are very supportive of continuing to access their GP in this way.

It will be interesting to see more detailed evaluation on the socio-demographic factors relating to preferences and usage in coming months and how that could inform the way care could be provided in the long term. Evaluating this not only helps inform what comes next but how to optimise providing care and cater for all.

The future of evidence generation

There are many digital health products and services that can offer solutions to challenges as we recover from the pandemic such as the backlog of care and services, the challenges of social care and supporting a continually stretched workforce.

As a sector, it is vital that we approach these challenges with the same open attitude, doing all we can to support digital health companies and healthcare organisations to implement new solutions where improvements can be achieved. By building the evidence base the health and social care sector can provide the very best care with confidence.

At DigitalHealth.London working with industry through our Accelerator and NHS staff through our Digital Pioneer Fellowship, we identified this ever-growing demand for good evidence and set up the Generator.

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