Digital Self Care: PAGB Audit and Recommendations

Digital self care audit PAGB cover page

Self care is always an important principle at Verve. So, when we heard that the PAGB was revealing the results of their new digital self care audit, we knew it was a webinar we couldn’t miss.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, public health messaging has encouraged more people to self care for minor conditions. This helps to both limit the spread of COVID-19 and reduce pressure on the NHS. 

The reaction and shift in attitudes towards self care over this period have shown that, when the advice is readily available and trusted, widespread change is possible. 

Self care Audit

Building on their 2019 self care and technology report, the PAGB undertook an audit of current online platforms where people commonly access healthcare information. 

This included national NHS services, local NHS services, NHS commissioners and other non-NHS services such as patient information websites. 

The audit produced three main recommendations to improve self care through digital resources:

1. A national self care information hub

PAGB recommendation 1: Self care advice should be easily accessible via an online hub on NHS.uk

Many of the sites reviewed within the audit directed users to national NHS sites for more information on self care. However, there is no dedicated page about this on the site.

For this reason, the PAGB recommends that a central self care page is set up on the NHS site and app. This would ensure that self care tips and advice are more easily accessible and comprehensive. 

2. A review and roll out of self care apps

PAGB recommendation 2: The NHS should review and roll out more self care apps

Whilst apps providing self care advice for self-treatable conditions are readily available and being utilised by some local NHS services, the audit found that they are not currently included within the NHS app library. 

An NHS review of these apps, and an accompanying update to the NHS app library, would direct more users to these trusted sources. It would also help to ensure consistency in the quality of advice available. 

3. Digital triage routes for self care

PAGB recommendation 3: Improve NHS digital triage routes to self care

It was also found that there was a lack of consistency in directing patients to pharmacy for self care advice. Of the 25 GP practices reviewed, only 12 directed patients towards pharmacy.

This is almost a mantra for us at Verve: community pharmacy is an incredible resource for free self care advice. Therefore an opportunity exists to ensure that people with self-treatable conditions are triaged towards pharmacy and self care rather than GP practices and A&E. 

A brighter future for self care

Over the last few months, a clear improvement has been seen in both public attitudes towards self care and the NHS services available to direct people towards it. But, as can be clearly seen from the PAGB’s digital self care audit, there is still room for improvement. 

By helping patients to access trusted and comprehensive self care advice, greater patient outcomes can be achieved and pressure on the NHS can be reduced. Those are both very good things in our book! Check out the full PAGB digital self care audit here

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