Primary Care News

Digital participation programme supports patients with hearing and sight loss

mHabitat led a research project with patients with hearing and sight loss to understand the barriers they encountered in making and attending GP appointments.

A list of useful apps and technology has been created for GPs and other organisations, and since going live it has benefitted more than 750 patients.

The research found patients found difficulties booking GP appointments, accessing buildings and waiting areas, communicating during consultations and reading information leaflets or letters.

The recommendations include online appointment booking, communication technology such electronic note-takers, tools which convert speech to text or text to speech and an app which turns a mobile phone into a hearing aid.

Nicola Gill, WDP Programme Director at NHS Digital, said ‘This pathfinder has successfully shown how day-to-day technology can help overcome some of the challenges faced by people with hearing and visual impairments when they visit their GP.”

“It has highlighted some valuable learning points, such as focusing on digital inclusion, listening to and working with patients and encouraging GPs to recognise that patients with disabilities may need additional support.”

“We are pleased to have learned so much from this project and hope that GPs and other health practitioners across the country will adopt this model of digital inclusion to support their patients with visual and hearing impairments.”

Helen Milner, Chief Executive of Good Things Foundation, said “Digital tools are vital in ensuring everyone can access the services they need – and this Pathfinder project has shown just how important that can be. We hope these findings can have a real impact on how primary care is delivered, to ensure everyone can access the health information and support they need.”

The project was part of NHS Digital’s Widening Digital Participation Programme, which aims to make digital health services and information accessible to everyone, particularly the most excluded people in society.

There are 20 digital inclusion pathfinders being run in partnership with the charity Good Things Foundation to test new ways of helping people access digital tools to improve their health.