Design principles for digital health that works for patients

The Digital Healthcare Council has published four key design principles that are essential for a vibrant and sustainable digital health ecosystem that works for patients. The four key principles are:

  • People first
  • Fair system rules
  • Free and open information
  • Evidence-based practice

On 13 December, the incoming Government will face numerous health challenges. These include improving access and tackling waiting times across the service. Digital is already playing important roles here, but if we are serious about fully addressing these areas, we need to use digital health more extensively and effectively.

Commenting on the paper, Digital Healthcare Council Director, Graham Kendall said:

“We have set out four key areas that an incoming Government must get right if patients are going to fully benefit from digital health provision: putting patients first, fair system rules, free open information, and building the evidence base.

“The principles encapsulate some profound challenges, for example, genuinely shaping provision to respond to patient choices is often far harder than limiting choice to options that are convenient for the status quo.

“Digital care provides ideal tools to address geographic inequalities, and while it will always be essential to have face-to-face care, it would be a travesty if we artificially limit services available to patients based on their postcodes.

“I’m pleased that progress is already being made in many areas. We’ve seen clear moves from the NHS to ask less ‘how do we, the centre, build’ and more ‘how do we support the community to develop solutions to achieve our goals?’ We call on all the political parties to adopt and build on that approach because it’s the best way to maximise developer resources available to the health service.

“Despite progress, there remain major challenges that will face the new Government. For example, for years, we’ve talked about interoperability and opening up data but progress has been painfully slow. That’s why we’ve produced these principles which we hope will be used as a yardstick to guide and inform decision making.”