My Health Tools is a digital self-care platform for people living with a range of long-term conditions (LTCs) launched in late September across Kirklees, West Yorkshire. To tie-in with Self Care Week 2015, we wanted to share some early usage data. We are able to begin to build a real-life picture of how people are using the portal to self-care, what people are interested in investigating and doing for themselves, as well as initial improvements in terms of confidence to live with a LTC.
In the seven weeks since My Health Tools (MHT) launched, it has been used by over 1,200 people; 30% of whom are returning users. Pain has been identified as the primary issue affecting users health (44%), with anxiety close behind at 38% and then breathing issues at 18%. These are the three areas MHT focuses on as they are common in so many LTCs.
By using the platform and engaging with the content, tools and personalised programmes there have been initial signs of improved confidence amongst users particularly in the areas of ‘being able to do things they enjoy’; an average 6% increase in confidence levels and ‘accomplishing goals in their life’; an average 3% increase in confidence levels. On a more generic confidence scale, of the people who have reassessed their situation and ability to manage their long-term condition whilst using My Health Tools, 44% saw an improvement in their overall confidence levels.
The self-help model that My Health Tools is based on (which has high levels of success in face-to-face settings) enables people to identify a range of challenges they face in life because of their long term condition; these could be emotional, practical, related to employment, relationships, wider health, sleeping, exercise etc. Interestingly seven of the top ten challenges identified by users are related to worry and stress. Consequently relaxation, breathing and mindfulness were identified as the top activities chosen to follow up with, either by learning more about these practices, finding local groups or following instructional videos.
Whilst this is a very early snapshot of how the portal is being used, it starts to paint a picture which firstly shows that people are willing to use digital tools to complement frontline services and help them lead happier, healthier lives. They are likely to be ‘starting small’ - with easier activities - to find their way and build confidence in using the system; all of which echoes the wider use and take-up of technology... starting small, gaining trust and confidence, then doing more and more.
As My Health Tools is rolled out to more people with LTCs and usage gains momentum, we will be able to identify the areas where digital can support primary and secondary care, see what tools, information and exercises help people to improve in terms of the confidence to live with their LTC, as well as the who is gaining most from using the portal, when people use it, for what and why.
To understand the background to My Health Tools and how and why people with LTCs can use it, see Kirklees’ My Health Tools Introduction video here on Youtube. Kirklees Council is making the My Health Tools platform available to other Public Health and CCG colleagues across the country; please contact email@example.com for more details.
Other blogs this week have covered how My Health Tools has been marketed as well as the outline and approach of the technology. Later this week we shall consider the future of My Health Tools as we look to 2016 and beyond.