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Southwark Council to launch digital health checks


Southwark Council is planning to become the first local authority to offer a digital version of the NHS Health Check.

It is making the service available as an alternative for people aged 40-74 to have check-ups with a GP or pharmacist to spot signs of diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, stroke and certain types of dementia.

The new system will be aimed at people who have not responded to invitations for the checks, using data from their medical records, and initiated via a call/recall function in a text message. This will invite them to click a link onto the digital tool.

The assessment process will be fully automated, calculating the risk to cardiovascular disease from additional data using the RISK2 medical device algorithm. The information will then be displayed to the user.

On the final page of the tool three boxes will display the result, risk and recommended actions. The latter can include a recommendation to make an appointment for a full NHS Health Check or provide indications of other services such as smoking cessation. The tool will not make an automated referral.

A council spokesperson said: “This digital tool has not replaced our face-to-face NHS Health Check offer. Its function is to facilitate and encourage non-responders to re-engage in the programme to increase overall uptake.”

Prototype input

The council led the design of the process with guidance from the Design Council and Local Government Association under the Design in the Public Sector programme. It also received input from Public Health England during the design of the prototype.

A trial launched last January and involved over 300 people, who previously did not respond to an invitation for a face-to-face check, completing the digital version. 10% were found to be at high risk of cardiovascular disease and advised to contact their GPs.

Currently about half of the people in Southwark invited to attend face-to-face checks do not do so.

Councillor Evelyn Akoto, cabinet member for community safety and public health, said: “We all lead such busy lives that finding time to make an appointment with your GP can often feel like a hassle to arrange. Yet the impact that it can have on your health is enormous.

“As a council we pride ourselves on leading the way when it comes to innovation and this is another example of how we are working to make taking care of yourself as easy as possible.”

Image by Andri Koolme, CC BY 2.0 flickr

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