Digital exclusion case studies: Covid 19 patient experience

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Summary of report content

During the Covid-19 outbreak, Healthwatch Hertfordshire carried out three online surveys to better understand the public experiences of mental health, shielding and health and social care services more generally. To ensure that they heard from those who do not have access to, or do not feel competent using the internet they carried out this additional piece of work to speak to those who are digitally excluded about their experiences during the coronavirus pandemic. They wanted to find out the reasons behind digital exclusion as well as how being digitally excluded has affected people’s experiences during the pandemic.

They carried out six, one to one in depth telephone interviews between 24th August and 7th September 2020. This approach meant they could investigate people’s experiences in depth and within its real-life context, as well as showcase the uniqueness of individual experience.

Two people said that their main barrier to digital inclusion was the cost as well as a mistrust of online platforms and services, notably online banking and social media.

  • Two people lacked the skills to use their devices to get online.
  • One person had a medical condition which prevented them from using electronic devices for extended amounts of time.
  • One person wasn’t interested in using the internet.
  • The people they spoke to shared experiences of missed healthcare appointments, increased feelings of isolation and loneliness and expressed frustration at confusing Government messages regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

People had a number of motivations for getting online including

  • Being able to keep in contact with friends and family more easily
  • Being independent, and not relying on help from family members
  • Being able access more information

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General details

Report title 
Digital exclusion case studies: Covid 19 patient experience
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Hertfordshire
Date of publication 
Thursday, 29 April, 2021
Date evidence capture began 
Monday, 24 August, 2020
Date evidence capture finished 
Tuesday, 22 September, 2020
Key themes 
Communication between staff and patients
Digitalisation of services
Health inequalities
Information providing
Lifestyle and wellbeing
Service delivery organisation and staffing

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
Structured interview
Unstructured Interview
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Primary care services 
GP practice
Secondary care services 

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
Not known
Not known
Not known
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Does the information include staff's views? 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
Not known

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.