Understanding how IoT-enabled social prescriptions can deliver value in healthcare systems

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< Project Overview >

For some time now there has been increasing interest in healthcare systems around the world in the use of social prescriptions, i.e., the ability for GPs and other healthcare professionals to refer patients to activity- or community-based services rather than offering medicalised solutions.

It is felt that social prescriptions may offer better and more cost-effective long-term solutions to common physical and mental health conditions. However, despite the promise around social prescribing, the evidence base and the means to implement it at scale are lacking. This is one aspect where Internet of Things (IoT) technologies could play a significant role. For example, networked wearable devices such as step counters have already been used to motivate users to become more active and in some cases encouraged social engagement.

This project aims to bring together IoT and social prescribing practice to support evidence generation for the benefits of social prescriptions and also to help scale their use. We will hold three workshops in which healthcare stakeholders (including patients/users, prescribers, payers and service providers) will map out the ways in which IoT can be used to facilitate evolution of the design, delivery and evaluation of social prescriptions in different healthcare settings. The broad challenges we will focus on include: demand/capacity planning; uptake/adherence; and stratification/personalisation. The workshops will also support innovators and investors to understand the market potential of IoT-enabled social prescriptions. The first workshop will be a focus group aimed at understanding the key challenges social prescription prescribers (represented by GPs and link /community health workers) and social prescription providers face. These challenges will be used as the basis for two subsequent workshops to ideate solutions for these two key stakeholder groups – a workshop hosted at the University of Oxford for social prescription providers in May and a workshop hosted at the Royal College of General Practitioners (see workshop update) for social prescription prescribers in June.

Outcomes:

The project aims to disseminate its findings to inform national policy discussions, with the potential for further funding to build on the outputs and collaborations established.

Project lead:

Dr Anant Jani, at the University of Oxford who working on the value based healthcare theme within the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences.

Partners:

Additional active participants will include patient groups, service users, health and social care providers, social prescription providers, technology providers and investors.

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