Kirklees Council records quick wins in public health initiative using My Health Tools
A digital self-care portal developed by LookingLocal - the platform provider for public services owned by Kirklees Council - has produced encouraging results in its first few weeks of use, the organisation has reported.
Named My Health Tools, it was launched in late September by Kirklees as a public health initiative to help users manage long term conditions (LTCs) such as asthma or diabetes.
It focuses on the common problems in LTCs – pain, anxiety and breathing problems – and has contributed to increased confidence levels among the 1,200 people who have used the tool.
Over the first seven weeks, 44% said their overall confidence levels had improved, particularly around doing things they enjoy and accomplishing their goals in life.
The platform had also helped users identify their prime problems, with 44% saying it was pain, 38% breathing issues and 18% anxiety.
My Health Tools draws on a bio-psychosocial model to encourage changes in behaviour through cognitive based therapy. It helps the user to identify the nature of their problem, provides guidance on how to deal with it – such as through breathing exercises or mindfulness – and enables them to track their confidence levels.
It also provides support in setting targets, creating a support circle among family, friends and carers, and recording progress through journal tools.
Writing in a blogpost on the results, Jane Hancer of LookingLocal says: “Whilst this is a very early snapshot of how the portal is being used, it starts to paint a picture which firstly shows that people are willing to use digital tools to complement frontline services and help them lead happier, healthier lives.
“They are likely to be ‘starting small’ - with easier activities - to find their way and build confidence in using the system; all of which echoes the wider use and take-up of technology... starting small, gaining trust and confidence, then doing more and more.”
The organisation is now encouraging other local authorities to take up My Health Tools as a public health measure. It has cited the Five Year Forward View document in saying there is an urgent need to cut the costs of dealing with LTCs, which now account for 70% of the NHS budget.
LookingLocal’s managing director, Guy Giles, said: “My Health Tools is a direct response to the challenging situation health organisations across the UK find themselves in and their need to deliver quicker, smarter care to people with long term conditions.”