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Blog: Patient and public engagement in digital health and care

Have you ever considered how unique you are and how reliant you are on parts of your body functioning properly as a whole, and what happens when something doesn’t work? To me this can feel a bit like how the NHS works, and how we recompense and perhaps overcompensate to let that part heal or find a different way to make things work.

For example if you lose your voice because of bronchitis do you tend to resort to paper and pen or gesticulate with your hands to get yourself heard? If you break your leg and can’t walk does that mean you rely on crutches or a wheelchair or someone to help you move around albeit slowly?

I’m sure we all have experiences as a patient or carer when we need to see a GP or visit a hospital so you try to book an appointment at a time convenient to you because you need to pick up a child at lunchtime or you need to travel for an hour or two to get to see a specialist and can’t use public transport. 

We also probably feel that when something catastrophic happens, we may have lost control of our health and wellbeing, or when we may have undiagnosed conditions are on a hamster wheel seeing so many health and care professionals so sometimes we just need the chance to take stock of our situation and find a way to cope (both mentally and physically). The way we live and adapt to situations has definitely affected a lot of people during the Covid pandemic and I have noticed how things have changed in our lives, sometimes for the better or the worse.

Seeing things from the eyes of a patient or person with a disability in our busy working lives is really important to me. I feel I am in an unique and privileged position in Digital Health and Care Wales as Engagement Lead (I have worked in NHS Wales for nearly 30 years) to weave in these views into our digital and health environment. 

I like to see myself as an ambassador to bring patients and public representatives and third sector organisations together to be part of our exciting development – the new NHS Wales App which will give you the chance to hold your health and wellbeing information in the palm of your hands or at your fingertips, and share this information with health and care professionals and others of your choosing. 

We also have the opportunity to bring in new ways of working and new digital tools which we may never have considered a few years ago so it is important for us to understand their impact from patient and professional perspective as well as organisational and Wales wide.

If we can change and improve the lives of people to allow them to be empowered and digitally included, and in control of their health with digital technology then that will be a great achievement for us in Digital Services for the Patients and Public Programme Team and Digital Health and Care Wales. We are fortunate to have experts from technology, user research, health and care, and policy working with us along with people with lived experiences who are keen to be part of user research activities to make this NHS Wales App a reality.

I for one am really excited about the future in bringing people on this amazing journey.

By: Joanna Dundon

National Informatics Clinical Lead - Public

Digital Services for Patients and the Public