The guidance body for health and social care has got behind the use of digital interventions through apps, wearable devices, online programmes and websites.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has highlighted the potential in draft guidance on encouraging people to change their behaviour using the digital and mobile tools.
It said they should be offered in addition to existing health and care services, not as replacements, and are in line with the NHS Long Term Plan.
The guidelines are focused on four strands of behaviour: smoking; diet and physical activity; alcohol consumption; and unsafe sexual behaviour.
Among the recommendations are using resources from expert sources such as Public Health England the NHS Apps Library to ensure the content has been assessed for safety, effectiveness and data security.
The document also identifies areas for further research, such as assessing the sustainability of behaviour change using digital interventions and on the sections of the population that would benefit the most.
NICE also acknowledged possible complications and urged clinicians to take care that patients do not rely on apps as a way of avoiding seeing a professional.
Paul Crisp, director of NICE’s Centre for Guidelines, said: “Digital interventions for behaviour change could help people make important improvements to their lifestyle, which may reduce their risk of developing serious chronic conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
“Clinicians may choose to consider these interventions as an option to work alongside traditional health care services towards a change in behaviour.”
A consultation on the draft guidance is open until 6 March.
Image by Eva Heinsbroek,