How digital tech can keep young patients connected

Maintaining good communication with those with chronic illnesses is crucial to their effective treatment.  This is especially so for younger patients who perhaps don’t have the strongest relationship with their healthcare team.  A recent study highlights how digital tools can help to bridge that communication gap, and thus significantly improve the care young people receive.

“Digital communication enables timely access for young people to the right clinician at the time when it can make a difference to how they manage their health condition,” the authors say. “This is valued as an addition to traditional clinic appointments, and can engage those otherwise disengaged. It can enhance patient autonomy, empowerment, and activation.”

Strong communication

The researchers tracked 20 specialist clinical teams from across the UK National Health Service.  The results suggest that the patients who will benefit most from more effective use of digital communication are those who already have a strong relationship with their clinical team, and who demand flexible access to them.

“Digital communication is already happening between health professionals and young people, and it’s clearly something young people want,” the team say.  “We think the NHS should be proactive in creating guidelines and helping clinicians to engage young people via digital communication. There are obviously risks, but also the potential for real benefits.”