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Public Health England launches digital health evaluation service


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Public Health England (PHE) has launched a new service to help teams developing or running a digital health product to evaluate if it actually makes things better for users.

It has published guidance on the steps as one of three elements and put out a call for feedback by 31 May.

This was written by academic evaluation experts from University College London, Dr Henry Potts and Dr Paulina Bondaronek, with contributions from PHE’s in-house digital team and advisory group.

It comes in two sections: getting started, taking in issues such as what evaluation is needed, where to find support and budgeting; and defining how a product works, which includes mapping how it will create change, developing a model and deciding what to measure.

These are backed up by a methods library as part of the guidance.

The second element of the service is a series of facilitated workshops run by its evidence and evaluation team to help others map how their product works, what they want to achieve and how it can be measured. (It is not clear from the announcement how this is affected by the coronavirus pandemic.)

For the third, PHE is working with industry leaders on setting up a community of best practice on digital health evaluation.

Conversation exercise

The move follows an exercise in which PHE spoke with teams developing products, in which it found that barriers include accessing a representative group of users, capturing genuinely insightful data and keeping pace with rapid change.

PHE said: “We co-designed different solutions for evaluating products with digital health teams, checking with our advisory group to make sure we were on track and adhering to best practice such as the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence’s Evidence Standards Framework for Digital Health Technology.”

Among the questions PHE wants answered about the guidance is how useful it is, what did readers like and dislike, and what would they like to know more about.

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

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