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Engaging “hard to reach” groups in preventative healthcare…

The NHS Long Term Plan marks a turning point in how healthcare is provided across England with a turning away from a system that prioritises treatment to one that focuses on the prevention and prediction of poor health. This, coupled with the rapid deployment of healthcare technology, as we have seen through the COVID-19 pandemic, has resulted in an overhaul of healthcare delivery with healthcare systems irrevocably changed.

While digital solutions are proving an advantageous way to access healthcare for the majority, for some groups, technology can be very exclusive. Some members of society are much less likely to access preventative services such as cervical screening, childhood immunisation and smoking cessation, and tend to have poorer health outcomes.

The NHS Inclusion Health programme has been used to define a number of groups of people who are not usually well provided for by healthcare services, and have poorer health outcomes. Traditional definitions cover people who are…

- homeless and rough sleepers

- the Traveller community (including Gypsies and Roma)

- those undergoing or surviving Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Human Trafficking

- those who define themselves as being part of the recovery movement, both through substance misuse and mental health issues

- the trans / non-binary community

The programme is primarily aimed at addressing the needs of the most vulnerable people who often face discrimination and a double disadvantage of both health inequality and difficulty of access to primary care services. These groups can overlap and individuals often have multiple and complex needs with a range of clinical and social challenges. The incidence of mental health problems amongst socially excluded people is very high. Experience of discrimination from both public services and society can cause some people to avoid actively seeking help, especially if this is coupled with a lack of a personal support network. Hate crimes on the grounds of race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, disability and transgender status can seriously affect how people interact with public services. For example, feelings of discomfort and fear of being “judged” can often deter trans patients from accessing health care.

The majority of these groups will also fall through the net of digital inclusion…

- People with a disability are three times more likely to have never used the internet

- In 2014, four million people with a disability had never been online

- The homeless, offenders, Gypsy, Traveller, and Roma communities and people in some rural communities experience health inequalities


These people are at an additional disadvantage because of their potential lack of internet access or broadband.

Socially excluded groups pose a number of challenges for the deployment of technology:

- Poor self-esteem and chaotic lifestyles detract from the ability to keep healthy and look after one’s own wellbeing

- Some groups may have poor literacy and require additional help such as audio access to information

- The location and opening hours of standard healthcare provision may not fit with particular lifestyles

- Some groups may be nomadic

- There may be a lack of access to the internet and smartphones

At EK Interactive we have developed our kiosk solution to serve these hard-to-reach groups by designing them to serve as walk-in provision for location in contexts such as homeless hostels or gateway hubs where other services can be accessed.

The kiosks have the following features:

- Set of clinically approved care pathway questionnaires, such as NHS General Health Check, Contraceptive check, Diabetes checks

- Kiosk links up to medically approved devices such as Blood Pressure machine and Height and Weight

- Results can integrate with EMIS/SystmOne in a GP context, be emailed to a named email address or printed out for the patient to take away

We would like to see our kiosks being used as part of a wellbeing in the community scenario where there are other wellbeing services being provided, taking the health stigma away from doing regular screening checks and tests. This could also allow a route through to consultations out in the community alongside screening checks in a non-clinical setting. Our key goals are to…

- Allow hard-to-reach groups easier access to healthcare at times suitable for them

- Empower patients to decide who their data is shared with

- Improve health literacy

- Boost digital confidence

- Provide access to health information

- Normalise the regular monitoring of health in particular contexts

- Use technology to give people control

- Enable empowerment over own health

To find out more about the EK Health Kiosk and what benefits it can bring to your facility, get in touch with us on 01223 812737 or, we’d be happy to discuss this with you and arrange a free, no obligation demo.

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