15th August 2019
Fast growing digital provider, Priority Digital Health, has this month become an accredited partner for the Medical Interoperability Gateway (MIG), data sharing technology developed by Healthcare Gateway.
The industry-leading MIG is a secure middleware technology which facilitates the two-way exchange of patient information between health and social care organisations.
Achieving MIG accreditation means that the Priority Digital Health platform can now access and share over 60.4 million patient records, in real-time, with healthcare settings across the country. The fully interoperable gateway allows integration with all major GP IT systems including EMIS Health, TPP Vision, plus data from social care, mental health and community organisations in HTML or structured format.
Alison Meadows, Joint Chief Executive at Priority Digital Health, said: “The systems we already have in place to protect our patients and their information is vitally important to us and we are continually reviewing and refining the way we do this. Not only for today, but also for the post-Covid-19 future.
That’s why we are delighted to achieve partner status for the esteemed Medical Interoperability Gateway. The system enables our Priority platform to share data seamlessly across a whole plethora of health settings, streamlining the patient journey and, crucially, saving precious administration time for healthcare professionals.”
The MIG which was launched in 2010 by Healthcare Gateway, is used by 70% of Local Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STP) in England. Access to patient data improves patient pathways and provides healthcare professionals with the right data, in the right place at the right time to make informed decisions efficiently.
Liam King, Director of Customer and Commercial at Healthcare Gateway, said: “We’re delighted to be partnered with Priority Digital Health enabling MIG connectivity to seamlessly share patient information in real-time. The integration will help healthcare professionals make faster more informed decisions. We’re looking forward to working with Priority Digital Health supporting better health across England.”
Earlier this year Priority Digital Health also achieved ISO 27001 accreditation, the internationally renowned information security management certificate, and NHS DCB 0129 compliance, the UK’s mandatory safety standard for health IT systems.
Fast-growth digital innovator Priority Digital Health has welcomed this week’s announcement by the British Medical Association which calls for Social Prescribing to be a default option for GP Practices and incorporated fully into GP Practice IT systems.
Joint Chief Executive of Priority Digital Health, Alison Meadows, said “We strongly welcome The British Medical Association’s call for social prescribing to be incorporated fully into GP IT systems. As members of the Social Prescribing Network we recognise the empowering role of Social Prescribing in enabling people to take greater control of their health and wellbeing while reducing the strain on GP Practices and NHS appointments generally.”
The leading-edge proprietary Priority Platform, which underpins the service offering by Priority Digital Health, is accredited by the NHS EMIS Health patient-management system and is already powering services to over 7 million UK patients. It has DCB O129 compliance and the internationally renowned ISO 27001 accreditation.
The Cambridge-based firm’s focus is on disease prevention and health promotion and the Priority Platform is transforming the way patients access primary care services online through effective self-referral, including for Social Prescribing. The platform has an effective case management system for healthcare providers.
Its proven track record includes the successful Essex Welfare Service platform, launched in response to Covid-19, and Diabetes Book and Learn in South London, which is enabling people living with Type 1 and 2 diabetes to book diabetes education courses that will help them manage their condition and potentially save the NHS millions of pounds.
Priority Digital Health’s unique full-service offering for healthcare partners including Primary Care Networks, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and Local Authorities provides end-to-end design and delivery including marketing services for patients.
Every year an astounding 70 million workdays are lost due to employees facing mental health challenges, costing their employers approximately £2.4 billion.
Mental health in the workplace should not purely be a discussion about the negative financial impact though.
Evidence shows that work is beneficial to health and wellbeing, giving individuals a stronger sense of self-esteem, purpose and identity.
It is also well documented that having a happy and healthy workforce can lead to increased productivity and longevity of service.
A business’s greatest assets are arguably it’s people. They define the brand and the perception of a company in the community.
Look after a workforce and they will look after your business…
The impact of coronavirus
At the height of lockdown, almost half of the UK’s workforce said they were working from home.
Millions couldn’t work from home though.
Keyworkers continued to leave their homes for our hospitals, supermarkets, care homes, schools, train stations, warehouses and many other establishments in a bid to keep Britain moving.
An increase in working hours, often underpinned by concerns of hygiene and childcare, has understandably put a strain on the wellbeing of our keyworkers.
Many who fought the covid-19 pandemic on the front line are now fighting their own mental health battle.
Those able to work from home faced their own challenges. And they are set to continue with no great exodus back into the office as restrictions have lifted. Indeed, many companies, such as Twitter, are suggesting that they will allow employees to work from home permanently.
No commute providing that home/work separation, no chats around the water cooler and many juggling home schooling with video conferences could have a detrimental impact on mental health.
What businesses can do
Typically, the average adult spends around a third of their waking hours in the workplace.
This gives employers an ideal opportunity to promote a healthy working culture, including having a healthy home/work balance.
Mind, the mental health charity, suggests this leads to healthier minds as sustained pressure to work long hours leads to stress and burnout with productivity, morale and creativity stifled.
Digital platforms are fast becoming a recognised way to help employers enhance the wellbeing of their employees in and out of the workplace.
The Priority Platform which includes a workplace health module has a range of personalised, nationally accredited lifestyle assessments, with individualised pathways for each user.
Recognising that each person is different Priority Digital Health have not taken a ‘one size fits all’ approach. The platform seamlessly integrates with a range of targeted self-care and behaviour change apps, tools and resources, giving employees the right type of care when they need it most.
It is the only digital system which responds, in real-time, to the needs of a community, connecting people with a range of local, non-clinical interventions through nationally accredited, holistic assessments online.
From volunteering opportunities and physical activity classes, to debt advice and employment services, this is more than a ‘directory of services’. It offers employers a complete picture of health and wellbeing support available in their area.
The uncertainty that covid-19 has brought into the workplace has increased stress and anxiety for many, whatever their working environment.
With a renewed focus on protecting the physical safety of employees in new covid-safe environments this must not be at the expense of protecting mental health.
After all, how can employees look after their clients, customers or patients if they are not looking after themselves?
It is time for the actions of employers on mental health to go above just a legal obligation. They must morally want to make a difference in the lives of their employees. By investing in the mental health of staff they are investing in the health of a whole business.
The importance of digital in this is important, now more than ever. Physical isolation doesn’t have to mean social isolation with the power of digital connecting us all for the betterment of mental health.
For more information about mental health in the workplace visit: https://www.who.int/mental_health/in_the_workplace/en/
Many of us have turned to social media in a bid to re-ignite the sense of community lost by social distancing. Video chats with friends and online exercise classes are daily occurrences for many.
The current health crisis has certainly accelerated our reliance on digital tools in a bid to maintain some semblance of normal.
The same can be said for public health bodies and local authorities too. As they try to keep people physically and mentally well during lockdown, they are faced with a further challenge – ensuring those who are digitally excluded are not socially excluded.
The Covid-19 crisis has shown that solutions can rapidly be put in place and successfully relieve pressure on the health sector. Priority Digital Health, for example, developed and launched the Covid-19 Welfare Platform within the space of a week.
However, with 1.9 million households having no or limited access to the internet or uncomfortable with digital tools, the very people the service was designed to help may not be able to access it.
As the demand for digital grows what can be done to help those offline access this same level of support?
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport has distributed internet-ready devices to hospitals and care homes, so the sick and elderly can stay connected with their families. They have also pledged to give free tablet or laptop computers and 4G based mobile broadband service to those children deemed disadvantaged.
These efforts to support our most vulnerable in society by giving them the tools to go online should be applauded. But, in this time of social distancing, we need human connectivity more than ever to close the digital divide. In the UK, 5 million people reportedly have zero basic digital skills and a further 1 million basic abilities – more needs to be done to help them get online.
Community organisations and charities are coming together to provide this invaluable support. One Digital, a collaborative digital inclusion programme spearheaded by AGE UK, works with a network of volunteer ‘digital champions’ to deliver free training to vulnerable people across the UK.
There is evidently an increase in demand for services right now. Silverline, the free confidential helpline providing information, friendship, and advice to older people, has reported a 30% increase in calls over the last 2 months.
Similarly, the NHS 111 online service usually receives 10k visits a day but during the peak of the pandemic reported nearly 1 million.
The digital divide is not solely about loneliness and isolation though. It could fast become a matter of life or death. Those who cannot or do not know how to access such healthcare services online may be at risk.
Priority Digital Health have played their part. In association with Essex County Council and Provide CIC, they trained 350 call handlers and 3500+ volunteers within the space of a week on how to use the Covid-19 Welfare Platform. Since its launch in early April 2019 thousands in the community have been paired with vulnerable people needing support with daily tasks, such as picking up medication and food shopping.
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted that digital solutions can have a positive impact on health and social care, but it has also accelerated the digital divide. To ensure that digital inequalities are not exacerbated, and the current health crisis does not worsen, we must go back to our roots. Digital connectivity still requires human connectivity.
Priority Digital Health has been given a seal of approval this month gaining internationally renowned ISO 27001 certification.
Additionally, working with Clinical Safety Consultants at ETHOS who provided third party assessment, PDH reached DCB 0129 compliance standard which is designed to promote and ensure the effective application of clinical risk management. It is the UK’s mandatory safety standard for health IT systems and apps and is governed by NHS Digital, with compliance mandatory under the Health and Social care Act 2012. The standard is strictly about safety, ensuring that the system does not cause patient harm, and underpins all national healthcare initiatives.
Priority Digital Health’s achievement of DCB compliance was followed shortly after with the news of its ISO 27001 accreditation; the internationally recognised information security management certificate issued by the British Standards Institution.
The accreditation process for ISO 27001 involved detailed inspections and testing of the security systems and controls which have been implemented for safe information management. This involved scoping what information needed to be protected within the company’s information security management system and identifying any threats to that information. Topics covered included General Data Protection Regulation and potential security threats such as cybercrime, personal data breaches and theft.
John Dibb, Joint Chief Executive of Priority Digital Health, said: “Clinical risk management, and the systems we have in place to protect our patients and their information, is vitally important to us. We are continually reviewing and refining the way we do this; not only for today, but also for the post-Covid-19 future.
The ISO 27001 certificate is essential to ensuring a robust approach to IT security and demonstrates our commitment to building further resilience. It should be a comfort to our customers to know that Priority Digital Health is working to the highest data and IT security standard possible.
This is bolstered by the DCB 0129 compliance which ensures patient risks are mitigated. At a time when some organisations are deferring full compliance with DCB 0129 due to Covid-19 we hope that this recognition of compliance demonstrates our commitment to patient safety.”
Fast-growing digital provider, Priority Digital Health, have developed and launched a new platform in response to the COVID-19 crisis – within the space of week.
The Covid-19 Welfare platform, designed by the Cambridge-based firm, enables the most vulnerable across Essex to register a request for support and allows volunteers to register their offer of help. Health and social care professionals can then match the volunteers to the requests for support via the platform.
As well as building the platform, the team at Priority Digital Health has trained 350 call handlers and 3500+ volunteers on how to use the system. The Covid-19 Welfare platform is now available to be customised for similar services and can be mobilised with 72 hours.
Alison Meadows, Joint Chief Executive of Priority Digital Health, said: “This crisis has brought into sharp focus the opportunity for digital solutions to get help to the most vulnerable people in our communities, whilst relieving the pressure on our health sector. The new Covid-19 Welfare platform is truly a local service for local residents and we’re proud that 400,000 vulnerable adults will be supported as a result”.
The Service, commissioned by Essex County Council and delivered by Provide CIC in partnership with Priority Digital Health, is designed for people who are without the support of family, friends or neighbours. The aim is to quickly and safely co-ordinate requests and referrals for support from vulnerable people in Essex and connect them to a fully vetted volunteer who wants to help their community during this difficult time.
The platform, which also delivers a remote stop smoking service and other community services, uses the HSCN Network as standard, one of the most secure hosting providers in the UK. It also has a special high traffic hosting solution in place, which can handle a whole population approach tested for 1.5 million residents across Essex.
No one could have predicted the scale and speed of how the Coronavirus has changed everyone’s lives and the role of digital has never been so relevant, keeping us connected and engaged with colleagues and clients and enabling a semblance of ‘business as usual’ in these extraordinary times.
The crisis has also brought into sharp focus the opportunity for digital solutions to get help to where it’s needed most – the most vulnerable people in our communities. Keeping people safe, as well as physically and mentally well during the coronavirus pandemic, is the highest priority for public health.
One of the powers of digital is that solutions can be swiftly identified and developed to meet changing needs in health and social care and to respond to urgent situations and we have just launched a platform in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Covid-19 Welfare Platform enables requests for support for the most vulnerable to be registered and it also has a volunteer registration page. Health and social care professionals are matching the volunteers to the requests for support via the Platform. We developed and launched this new online service within a week.
The Government announced its vision for digital healthcare technology in October 2018 but it feels like 2020 is the year it comes of age. The vision highlighted the need for a more joined up health and social care system, access to real time data, and systems which can talk to one another.
Digital technology today is giving health and care providers, including local authorities, strategic transformation partnerships and clinical commissioning groups, the endless possibilities of this joined up approach.
New healthy lifestyle websites, with social prescribing being an integral part, are providing an efficient, cost effective gateway for services which put patients more in control of their health and wellbeing.
For providers working together to manage and refer patients effectively across the system, digital is giving them interoperability for seamless patient management. They also have access to rich data which helps them accurately measure and report patient outcomes and therefore better plan future provision.
Importantly, these new platforms are reducing the pressures on overstretched GP Practices and NHS hospitals because the focus is on prevention, putting people at the heart of their health and wellbeing.
Giving people access to services online where they can self-refer and connect with services, whether it’s volunteering or accessing support when socially isolated, smoking cessation, weight management or to book education courses for conditions like diabetes, has enormous potential for patient-led integration of health and social care.
Alison Meadows, Joint Chief Executive of Priority Digital Health
15th August 2019
Since the arrival of social media, the way we communicate has developed vastly, whilst it has brought about positive change, the negative impacts it can bring shouldn’t be overlooked.
The use of social media continues to rise across all ages, but young people in particular are more susceptible to the contrasting impacts that it can bring. Some of the troubles that come with constant use of social media platforms are issues such as addiction, becoming socially isolated, a reduction in face-to-face interaction or developing a lack of social cues.
In 2017, RSPH and the Young Health Movement published a report that looked into this topic which highlighted that 91% of 16-24 year olds use the internet for social networking, and found that social media is linked closely with increased rates of anxiety, depression and poor sleep.
This report also highlighted the increase in negative thoughts and feelings amongst young people, with the below figures reflecting this:
Because of the negative factors to social networking, the RSPH have introduced Scroll Free September to encourage people to take 30 days to either reduce or cut out social media next month. Whilst the idea might seem drastic to some, the ability to step back and reflect upon your own social media use and the negative impacts it might be having on your life can leave you feeling more connected, and even surprised at how reliant on staying up to date with others’ lives we’ve become as a society. The chance to look at what you’ve missed in the 30 days, what you didn’t miss and what you enjoyed doing as an alternative has brought a sense of enlightenment to people such as Beth Bretherton, an RSPH Young Health Champion.
To say that social media is only negative, however, doesn’t reflect the opportunities that networking platforms have created accurately. As with many things the negatives attract more scrutiny, but positives find it harder to gain the same traction. For instance, the report in 2017 highlighted that sites like YouTube create a strong community feel and saw an increase in self-expression and emotional support. The introduction of Facebook saw people connecting in a way never thought of before; the idea of being able to instantly speak to long-distant friends and family or keep up to date with their lives with one click of a button was unprecedented, and now we’ve seen it grow in leaps and bounds and allow us to create positive online communities and combat social isolation.
As with most things, the idea of everything in moderation is key to maintaining good health and wellbeing, so it’s worth taking into consideration this coming month, how much time you’re spending on social media and the impact it’s having on your life. Taking actions that will benefit you, such as taking a step back for a length of time that suits your needs could be the short relief that you didn’t know you needed.
9th July 2019
With the face-paced and ever-changing time that we’re living in, the push on Digital Transformation within the NHS is important, now more than ever. The NHS Long Term Plan aims to not only give people more control over their health and care by providing the right digital tools and services, but also gives health care professionals the technology to help complete administrative tasks quicker, enabling them to focus more time to patients.
One of the key steps that have been taken is access to the NHS Apps Library, in which patients and health professionals can access over 70 approved apps and ranges from category specific options (diabetes assistance or Mental Health) to more general apps that can help you find the right treatment when you’re feeling unwell. In addition to what is currently available, the goal is for patients to be able to access the NHS 111 service online, as well as booking appointments in hospitals and GP, and accessing their GP records.
Reducing strain on the health service by minimising GP appointments and visits to A&E for non-emergency purposes is the primary focus for the Digital Transformation section of the Long Term Plan. Becoming more digital in the way patient care is delivered will give the opportunity to access certain services online to help people to stay well, to recognise important symptoms early on, and for individuals to manage their own health with the guidance of the right digital tools.
Figures like the below highlight the benefits we are already seeing because of the development of digital services:
– Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) is now used in 93% of England’s 7,300 GP practices, with more than 67% of prescriptions being delivered via EPS
– Digital access has saved the NHS £136 million in the 3 years from 2013 – 2016 
– Ability to book hospital and GP appointments is expected to save the NHS an excess of £50 million a year
In 2019 we are also seeing an increase in the number of adults using the internet in comparison to previous years:
– 99% of 16 to 44-year olds in the UK have used the internet in the last 3 months
– 47% of adults over the age of 75 have used the internet in the last 3 months, up from 20% in 2011
– Internet use by 65 to 74-year olds has increased from 52% in 2011 to 83% in 2019 
Another objective of the Long Term Plan is to expand and develop the Diabetes Prevention Programme to offer digital access from 2019, with platforms such as Diabetes Book & Learn already providing this service in south London, a good example of interoperability with patient records in EMIS Health and Vision made available to providers of diabetes education. The ability to find courses or groups to educate yourself about diabetes once being diagnosed helps to streamline care and communication between patients and professionals.
Returning to Simon Stevens statement, we believe Interoperability and digital transformation is both the present and the future. The trick is staying ahead whilst supporting patients to both benefit and keep up with the fast-pace of change.
2nd July 2019
The past few years has seen a significant rise in the recognition, and benefits, of Social Prescribing.
Social Prescribing is a means of GPs, Nurses and Healthcare Professionals to refer people to non-clinical interventions. For example, prescribing social activities or sports clubs to help tackle social isolation or mental health issues. Social Prescribing acknowledges that there are several factors in a persons’ life that can contribute to poor health, and that alternatives to clinical options can be highly beneficial.
“Social prescribing is not a new idea – good GPs have always done it, it didn’t have a name.”
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair, Royal College of GPs
A large part of Social Prescribing is recognising that physical and mental health often goes hand in hand and some of what is available to individuals can improve both sides of one’s overall health.
Good examples of effective Social Prescribing activities or programmes are:
It’s no secret that the Health Service is under strain in the recent years, so the number of GPs that are referring patients onto Social Prescribing for not only patient benefit has increased, but also for the benefit of the NHS. In 2018, over 23% over 391 GPs said they or their colleagues have referred using Social Prescribing regularly, compared to 19% in 2015 and 20% in 2017 . Over 20% of people visit their GP for non-clinical reasons, a contributing factor for Social Prescribing being one of NHS England’s 10 High Impact Actions identified to help free up GPs time.
2019 has been identified as the year Social Prescribing came of age and with digital platforms, such as www.diabetesbooking.com playing a vital role in signposting and supporting referrals to community services.