A digital health hub is a place where people can go to improve their digital skills in health and wellbeing. This includes ordering repeat prescriptions online and using the NHS app.
In 2020/21, 100% Digital Leeds team partnered with Cross Gates & District Good Neighbours Scheme to launch the first digital health hub in Leeds, after a successful funding application to Good Things Foundation.
This meant that Cross Gates & District Good Neighbours Scheme could include digital support and resources into their already successful programme of activities. Their 1,200 members received support on topics such as ordering repeat prescriptions online, making a GP appointment online or using the NHS app to self–manage their long-term health conditions.
The digital health hub model works in partnership with NHS, creating strong links with local GP practices and social prescribing teams. There is now an established referral pathway for health professionals and staff to refer patients to the digital health hub for support in accessing online NHS services, and this continued throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The digital health hub model
Since the introduction of the digital health hub, patients are now able to make GP appointments online and order online prescriptions. This has been vital at this time and created a change in lifestyle for patients with the way they engage with health services.
This reduced pressures on front-line NHS services and increased uptake of video appointments. Digital Champions continue to work with patients and carers to understand and meet their digital health needs, which demonstrates good co-production.
The benefits of being a digital health hub
In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, this digital health hub model demonstrated the key benefits to providing digital health support.
The centre is delivering their service by communicating to their members fully through welfare calls and virtual sessions. However established partnerships and collaborative working with local healthcare providers has also continued.
The main factors that led to success
The main factors that contributed to this success are varied.
Working closely with primary care services
The 100% Digital Leeds team worked closely with primary care by delivering Digital Champion training to local GP practice staff and volunteers. This increased access to NHS services online and self-management apps such as the MyCOPD app. This strengthened the links between the community provision at the digital health hub and primary care networks, allowing for continued referrals for digital support and improving health outcomes for their members and patients.
There was increased communication around NHS communications and COVID-19 updates to members throughout the pandemic. Members were encouraged to still access primary care when necessary and there was increased awareness of access to cancer screenings and other key services.
Continued digital support and training
An established group of staff and volunteers within Cross Gates and District Good Neighbours Scheme was set up. They have continued to provide digital support and training with members via telephone calls.
Benefits and future plans
Following the success of this first digital health hub in Leeds, this framework was shared further so that the model could be extended to other Neighbourhood Networks and third sector organisations across the city.
The council wants to improve health outcomes for all and help more people to self-manage their health conditions. This model will provide digital support for people by harnessing the tools and resources amongst community organisations, letting service users to access health information online, online consultations and NHS services.
The wider benefits of increasing digital skills include:
- increasing social connections
- combating loneliness
- promoting independence amongst service users, helping them to shop and bank online as well as accessing online groups and virtual sessions to support their mental wellbeing
For more information, see the full report from Good Things Foundation.