An NHS initiative designed to teach vulnerable people how to use the internet has led to an improvement in their health and well-being, and reduced GP and A&E visits, according to a charity study.
The Tinder Foundation’s report states that 21% of participants visited or called their GP less after taking part in the programme, and 6% made fewer trips to A&E. More than half (52%) said the programme made them feel less lonely, and 62% said that it made them happier. So far, 220 000 have been helped to become more internet savvy.
Using the internet to look for advice and information about illnesses and medications can help patients to self-monitor, reducing the pressure on front-line services. However, 12.6 million Brits currently lack the digital skills to do this.
Helen Milner, chief executive at the Tinder Foundation, said: “The Widening Digital Participation programme has clearly shown that digital has the power to affect people’s lives at scale.
“The programme has helped people to move non-urgent medical queries from face-to-face and emergency channels to online ones, saving an estimated £6 million a year to the NHS, as well as ensuring people have timely support when they need it.
“The programme has also supported the wider wellbeing of those supported, helping to address complex issues behind social exclusion and poor mental health.”