The 100% Digital Leeds team partnered with Cross Gates & District Good Neighbours Scheme to launch the first Digital Health Hub in Leeds last year after a successful funding application to Good Things Foundation. This enabled Cross Gates & District Good Neighbours Scheme to embed digital support and resources into their already successful programme of activities. Their 1,200 members received support on topics such as ordering repeat prescriptions online, making a GP appointment online or using the NHS app to self–manage their long-term health conditions.
The Digital Health Hub model works in partnership with NHS, creating strong links with local GP practices and Social Prescribing teams. There is now an established referral pathway for health professionals and staff to refer patients to the Digital Health Hub for support in accessing online NHS services, and this has continued throughout COVID-19.
Patients can now make GP appointments and order online prescriptions, which has been vital at this time and created a change in lifestyle for patients with the way they engage with health services. This reduced pressures on front-line NHS services and increased uptake of video appointments. Digital Champions are continuing to work with patients and carers to understand and meet their digital health needs, which is a real demonstration of co-production.
In the face of COVID-19 this Digital Health Hub model has shown the key benefits to the framework in providing digital health support throughout the pandemic. The centre is delivering their service by communicating to their members fully through welfare calls and virtual sessions, but established partnerships and collaborative working with local healthcare providers has continued.
The main factors which contributed to this success are:
- The 100% Digital Leeds team working closely with Primary Care by delivering Digital Champion training to local GP Practice staff and volunteers to increase access to NHS services online and self-management apps such as the MyCOPD app. This has strengthened the links between the community provision at the Digital Health Hub and primary care networks, enabling continued referrals for digital support and improving health outcomes for their members/patients.
- Increased communication around NHS communications and Coronavirus updates to members throughout the pandemic. Encouraging members to still access Primary Care when necessary and increasing awareness of access to cancer screenings and other key services.
- An established cohort of staff and volunteers within Cross Gates and District Good Neighbours Scheme who have continued to provide digital support and training with members via telephone calls.
- Key stakeholders across Third Sector, NHS, Leeds Community Healthcare and Voluntary Action Leeds.
Following the success of this first Digital Health Hub in Leeds, this framework will be shared further so that the model can be extended to other Neighbourhood Networks and Third Sector organisations across the city.
The council wants to improve health outcomes for all and enable more people to self-manage their health conditions. This model will provide digital support for people by harnessing the tools and resources amongst community organisations, enabling service users to access health information online, online consultations and NHS services.
The wider benefits of increasing digital skills include: Increasing social connections, combating loneliness and promoting independence amongst service users, enabling them to shop and bank online as well as accessing online groups and virtual sessions to support their mental wellbeing.