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Digital Innovation is for Everyone – supporting digital inclusion across healthcare

Digital innovation brings improvements for patients but inequalities mean that many are being left behind. This project will define the issue of digital exclusion locally, testing and embedding practical solutions. .

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  • Winning idea
  • 2022

Meet the team


  • Digital Inclusion Network - Council Led

What is the challenge your project is going to address and how does it connect to the theme?

The Digital Exclusion Risk Index shows that both City and Hackney have pockets of very high risk for digital exclusion. In a recent Council it was found that:

·         Half of Hackney residents aged 65 and over do not have internet access (53%)

·          34% of Hackney residents with a long-term illness or disability do not use the internet

·         A third of Hackney residents in receipt of benefits do not have access to the internet (34%)

Homerton community and acute services are embracing digital innovations and clinicians report that digital innovations can have multiple benefits for patients but we cannot continue to develop and innovate new ways of working without addressing digital exclusion. Bringing a QI approach to this complex problem will enable us to define and test change ideas that are practical and inequality-focused, alongside the use of data and measurement so that no one is left behind as digital improvements are instigated and sustained.

What does your project aim to achieve?

The appointment of a project manager to lead this work will enable us to define the complex digital inequality issue for our patients, and identify some key change ideas that will make a practical difference.

Some of the changes we anticipate include:

  • Staff supported with knowledge and information about digital exclusion
  • General communications and engagement to raise the profile of this issue
  • Regular training for all staff on this issue (including at induction)
  • Digital exclusion champions: taking responsibility to speak up for issues
  • Digital literacy of patients included in case history / initial assessment
  • Increased knowledge of, and referral to digital support programmes for patients
  • Patient voice listened to directly about these issues
  • Data available re. health inequalities and digital improvements
  • Possible partnership projects or grant applications with charitable organisation
  • Participate in system-wide network
  • Use knowledge and information to advocate for our patients in the system

How will the project be delivered?

This project will use QI methodology, alongside the Kings Fund Framework for tackling health inequalities. The framework outlines the necessity to tackle awareness, action and advocacy at different levels: self, patients, clinical teams, pathways and service groups, community and networks, and within systems.

Beginning with stakeholder and asset mapping, the project will move on to testing a series of change ideas using PDSA cycles.

The barriers to digital inclusion are well documented and researched.

They can be summarised in the following ways – all of which we will tackl with this project:

·         Access – the ability to actually go online and connect to the internet

·         Skills – to be able to use the internet

·         Motivation – knowing the reasons why using the internet is a good thing

·         Trust – a fear of crime or data sharing

The NHS QI sustainability model will be used to ensure any changes are sustainable.

How is your project going to share learning?

The issue of digital inequality has resonance for clinicians working across the health and care system. We hope that we will be able to share learning about our process and approach, our use of data and measurement for improvement, and our practical solutions to address the issues.

We will share learning across our organisation through Quality Improvement forums, our Digital Programme Board and service level clinical networks.

We will share learning at a local level across our Integrated Care Partnership City and Hackney through membership of the Health Inequalities Steering Group, Digital Inclusion Network and other local forums.

We will also share learning more widely through social media, presentations and conferences across Quality Improvement and Clinical Networks.

How you can contribute

  • Shared learning from similar projects
  • Networking and awareness of other charities / organisations / groups
  • Connecting with other Q Community members
  • Sharing useful resources
  • Supporting us to promote our work and encourage others to support

Plan timeline

14 Jun 2022 Funding announced - starts
1 Sep 2022 Recruitment complete and project manager in post
31 Oct 2022 Scoping and baseline measurement / stakeholder initial engagement complete
1 Nov 2022 PDSA cycles and tests of change
1 Feb 2023 Reflection and analysis
31 Mar 2023 Project complete with recommendations for future work and sustainability


  1. Guest

    We are very interested in your progress and what works best to support digital inclusion. We are very aware of the digital divide and your project made us think that checking users’ digital competence will be imperative to our project's success. We want to use online learning for our Q Exchange project,(Competence, Confidence and Complex Needs Children | Q Community ( As we are based in Northern Ireland we are very aware of the digital inequalities, with Northern Ireland having the highest proportion of non-internet users in the UK. We have poor or no broadband coverage especially in rural areas, an ageing population and previous studies showing 32.2% of the NI population aged 16 - 65 years have low or no digital skills. We look forward to learning from your project and using your experiences to help counteract some of the issues we face.


    1. Thanks Una, definitely really keen to share learning - particularly how we check digital competence as a routine part of our work. (sorry for my slow reply, I only just noticed all these replies!). Keep in touch.

  2. I am really interested in seeing your findings and recommendations from this project in relation to the work we are doing in improving perinatal equity in Sussex - great idea and really needed.

  3. Hi Annabelle, this sounds like an exciting development. Supporting our community access health services across the system is key- particularly when digital is getting in the way of this happening. I am looking forward to seeing the ideas and implementation that will increase access to our vulnerable community members.


  4. Really like this idea. Didn't realise the numbers of digitally excluded was so high.

    We have recently been talking about digital exclusion at our trust too, it's definitely something we need to think about when it comes to how we communicate with people and how we get important messages out.

    1. Thanks Jane. I hope that by looking at this issue at a borough-wide level in City and Hackney we can come up with some useful tools and methods that could be applied by others elsewhere. It is such an important issue.

  5. Sounds like a great idea Annabelle. Very keen to support this within City and Hackney

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