We’re bridging the gap between health innovators and patients

A male doctor sits face to face with an elderly woman. They are in the doctors office . The focus is on the doctor who sits at his desk holding a digital tablet and smiling at the woman.

Whilst digital transformation gathers pace in the NHS, patients are too often at the periphery of the conversation.

To tackle this, a new ‘Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement’ learning module has been created to support the development and delivery of patient-centric technologies.

The foundation level module is free at orcha-digitalhealthacademy.com and on the Health Education England NHS Learning Hub (learninghub.nhs.uk).

There are 300,000 healthcare apps currently live on the UK market (1) but only 6 in 10 innovators consult patients before development (2).

No training previously exists on conducting effective patient and public involvement and engagement (PPIE), leading to wasted resource on unsuitable technologies at a time when the healthcare system simply cannot afford it. The module aims to educate innovators who are creating new technology, and the clinicians who are prescribing these solutions. Crucially, the module also provides valuable support to the 500 NHS clinicians who are on the Clinical Entrepreneur Programme.

The module is an introduction to the first evidence-based framework for PPIE, launched by the University of Plymouth, the AHSN Network (the national voice of the 15 academic health science networks in England) and Boehringer Ingelheim UK & Ireland. It helps to fast-track learning for the EnACT principles described in the framework, outlining how to involve patients in product innovation and critical issues such as data privacy, intellectual property, inclusivity, reimbursement, useability, and recruitment of patients.

Dr Tom Micklewright, General Practitioner and Clinical Director of ORCHA spoke about the critical need for the new module,

“Digital health tools have the potential to transform how front-line workers deliver healthcare, but this will only work if patients use the tools. I’ve seen first-hand how some health apps have lost the confidence of patients because they were never really designed with usability in mind. I hope having this module on the Academy will help clinical entrepreneurs at a practical level and will also help my colleagues on the front line understand more about health app development.”

Liz Ashall-Payne, CEO of ORCHA, said,

“We’re very pleased to be adding this excellent module onto our Academy platform. The Academy exists to help front line health and care workers build their digital confidence and skills, and part of this learning is an understanding of how these digital tools have been developed by clinical entrepreneurs in the first place. This highly instructive video module, which is
based on an award-winning training manual, will do just that. ORCHA will also be making this module available to the digital health developer community, through a new portal.”

Naj Rotheram, Medical Lead for Partnerships at Boehringer Ingelheim UK and Ireland commented,

“The most effective patient resources are co-designed, so we are extremely proud to have been involved in the development of this latest module. The work conducted on the PPIE initiative reinforces Boehringer Ingelheim’s commitment to delivering patient-centric digital transformation, helping to create
a more sustainable healthcare system.”

The Digital Health Academy was launched in 2022 in response to the lack of mandatory digital health training for health and care professionals. Since its launch, the ORCHA Digital Health Academy has been consistently amongst the most-accessed courses on the Health Education England Learning Hub.

Notes and references

1. ORCHA Data Insight Report 2022.
2. Digital Innovation within the NHS, barriers & opportunities: An Innovator’s perspective. ORCHA 2021.