Going digital: Testing a digital health app with children and young people with learning disabilities

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Hertfordshire worked with Hertfordshire County Council to test and evaluate a digital health app called Hear Me Now to understand whether the app could be of value to children and young people with learning disabilities as a way of managing their health in an easier way. They recruited four young people with learning disabilities and three carers to test the app.

Although the primary purpose of the app is for users to independently manage, record, and share health information and support needs with healthcare professionals, most participants were not inclined to use the app in this way. Participants preferred to use the app to record personal information such as their hobbies and interests. They also liked how they could customise and personalise the app to express themselves and their identity.

All participants required support from their carer to use the app. At times the carers also found the app confusing or counterintuitive and required additional support. Carers of participants with greater communication needs could see the benefits of using the app to write notes and record audio and video clips to help their child communicate with healthcare professionals. However, carers and participants did not find it easy to share information with healthcare professionals through the app and were not convinced that clinicians would have the time or capacity to learn how to use the app. Carers had concerns about the safety of the app in relation to privacy, security and consent. Participants thought the cost of the app was too high, and difficult to justify

Based on this feedback, Hertfordshire County Council has made the decision to promote a range of suitable apps that will help children and young people with learning disabilities to manage their health, depending on their wants and needs. This will include apps that are free to the user.

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General details

Report title 
Going digital: Testing a digital health app with children and young people with learning disabilities
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Hertfordshire
Date of publication 
Friday, 27 May, 2022
Key themes 
Digitalisation of services
Holistic support
Lifestyle and wellbeing
Patient records

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Yes
What type of organisation requested the work 
Local Council
Primary research method used 
Observation
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 
N/A

Details about conditions and diseases

Types of disabilities 
Learning or understanding or concentrating
Social / behavioural
Types of long term conditions 
Learning disability
What type of pregnancy or maternity themes are included in the report 
N/A

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
7
Age group 
1-15 years
16-17 years
18-24 years
Gender 
Female
Male
Ethnicity 
Not known
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Does the information include public's views? 
Yes
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Yes
Does the information include staff's views? 
No
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 
Neutral

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Yes
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Yes action has been taken or promised
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Yes
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
Not known
What type of impact was determined? 
Tangible impact (not cost related)

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.