People Driven Digital unAwards 2015
Winner of the Most outstanding digital inclusion initiative
We know that many people who could benefit from digital tools and services just aren’t able to because they face digital exclusion. This category celebrates initiatives that go the extra mile to help everyone benefit from digital technologies.
My Health Guide – is a tablet app (iOS, Android) to help learning-disabled adults take an active role in their health care. The app lets them record important items (text/audio/video/image) in easy-to-make ‘boxes’.
Users can customise the app’s appearance and behaviour, and can control the structure of the content within the app. The app also allows professionals, with the user’s agreement, to add content that can help in understanding and reinforcing professional advice. People who use services and the front-line staff who support them have been heavily involved in the app’s design and testing.
About My Health Guide
There has been nothing like this before. People with learning disabilities are commonly disempowered when it comes to understanding and retaining information about their own health.
In response My Health Guide has been designed to help people with learning disabilities to:
• understand the interventions and treatments they receive
• understand their own health histories and when to take action
• take actions that promote their health
• record discussions with health care staff and reflect on them later with carers and key support staff
• make available key medical information to health care staff when required
My Health Guide allows professional staff to:
• understand and respond appropriately to individual needs
• input information that helps patients to understand and act on their advice
• create alerts and reminders for individuals
• where appropriate, access patients’ health guides remotely.
At a time when many more people with learning disabilities are learning to use portable devices the app goes so far beyond current patient-enabling items like health or communication passports that it obliges us to rethink our whole approach to supporting interactions between people with learning disabilities and the health and social care staff who work with them.
In our testing to date each person who comes into contact with My Health Guide finds a new use for it. Take Annie. Annie has a moderate learning disability. She also has physical health issues and some mental health concerns. Using My Health Guide on her iPad Annie has been able to record, using both the audio and text facilities of the app, the things that worry her day to day. She can now take her iPad to her next consultation with the person she calls her ‘worry doctor’. This way Annie is not having to hold lots of information in her head or to worry whether there’s anything she’s forgotten to say when she meets the doctor. She can also use the app to record her consultation with the doctor and reflect later with her mum and her key worker at the day centre on the advice she receives.
We’ve found that people with significant learning disabilities pick up the idea of My Health Guide and start using it really quickly. Service staff take to it quickly as well and identify its benefits for individuals and for the service as a whole. One senior care worker in a day service observed that it creates new possibilities for person-centred working and for real-time recording of what people are accomplishing or would want to accomplish.
For people with learning disabilities and others with cognitive difficulties the key pieces of assistive technology are those which enable them (i) to deal with complexity in their lives related to their health and other needs and (ii) to engage with the health and other systems that support them with confidence and competence. My Health Guide is one of the first technologies to match those criteria.