28 February 2019
Researchers from the DECODE study hosted a workshop late in 2018 to explore the unintended consequences of digital health tools used in primary care. The workshop was attended by members of the public, technology developers, GPs and key researchers in the field.
Digital health tools, such as health monitoring apps and online patient portals, are becoming commonplace, with NHS England supporting their use to improve patient access and care. But this increase in their use could lead to unintended consequences, both positive and negative. An understanding of these consequences is vital, so we can minimise the negative effects and harness the positive.
DECODE aims to improve how digital health tools are used in primary care by investigating the unintended and unexpected consequences of these technologies for patients, GPs and practice staff for three popular applications in GP practices.
The unintended consequences identified at the workshop included:
Dr Jeremy Horwood, from NIHR CLAHRC West and the Centre for Academic Primary Care at the University of Bristol, who is leading the study said:
“The unexpected and unintended consequences raised by workshop participants highlights the far-reaching impacts that these digital health tools can have. The challenge now is to understand how these tools can be implemented and used in ways that stand the best chance of doing more good than harm.”
We’re keen now to get as many views as possible on potential unintended consequences to investigate. If you have any further ideas related to these three types of technology or if you would like to comment on the ones identified above, please contact Andrew Turner, Senior Research Associate at NIHR CLAHRC West, on email@example.com.
You can also take part in discussions on Twitter using the hashtag #DECODEstudy
Researchers are now interviewing patients, practice staff, commissioners and industry representatives that have been involved in the use or implementation of digital health tools to examine their experiences, opinions and reflections.
The outcome from DECODE will be guidance on the unexpected consequences of digital health tools for patients, primary care, policymakers, technology industry developers and digital health researchers, to improve the development, implementation and evaluation of digital health tools in primary care.