How can technology help improve health and wellbeing?

Seeing the recent news about the impact Type 2 diabetes has, and will have, on the NHS is enough to take anyone’s post-holiday energy down a notch or two. Then when you think about looming funding cuts to all areas of public health, it’s enough to make you need another holiday.

People who work in health will be well aware of the risk factors for someone to develop Type 2 diabetes. While ethnicity and having a relative with diabetes can’t be changed, things such as getting more exercise and eating right can make a difference, which means encouraging behaviour change.

 

And that is really the crux of the matter - how do we stimulate behaviour change?  The first step is to change how people can find the right information at the same time as making it quick and easy; people want and need to get answers amid hectic lives.

 

If a service is provided by a trustable source, people will seek out, digest, and act upon information.  Whether it’s about diabetes or any other health issue, their nearest walking group or what sort of food they should eat.  Knowing that information is accurate is reassuring and helps motivate people to act.  It also means that people can get the right information and support more quickly. For example, does a person really need to see a GP for a referral to a smoking cessation service?  Probably not. Directing traffic to the right places as early as possible will not only save everyone time, but also save the frontline NHS services a lot of money.

 

So, how do you make finding information different, easy and fast?

 

  • By not needing the ‘right’ search terms
  • Using directions to make it clear what to do next
  • Being ‘clickable’ - as more people use tablets and smartphones, finding information needs to be a smooth process without the need to type
  • Being Local - make it more relevant by finding groups, events and services within a certain distance

 

LookingLocal is helping health organisations to change the way people can find what they need, with its online platform HealthMyself. It is flexible and can be adapted to local needs and priorities, and makes information more accessible than the traditional internet search.  It’s design needs minimal content maintenance, meaning health organisations spend less time maintaining information. A win for the patient, and a win for the public purse.


The need for that holiday feels just a little further away….

Sheena Guthrie, Self Care Hub Analyst