Old lady on the phone
By Aaron Speight
Blog 15 October 2020

There are so many new digital technologies on the market promising to revolutionise health and care. With so much choice, and such unfamiliar ground, selecting the right service and digital health partner can be intimidating. So how can NHS commissioners make sure the technologies they adopt are the right ones?

Looking out for these credentials is a good start.

Meets a real need

All digital health technologies should meet a need in the NHS. Whether it’s reducing costs by introducing more efficient processes, or making a condition easier to manage for patients, technology should offer new solutions to existing problems.


Any health care technology should be person-centred – designed with the user at its heart. It should do what it’s supposed to for the patient and provide a positive user experience.

Digitally inclusive

Not everyone has access to WiFi or a smartphone. All digital health partners should offer a choice of technologies – from apps and SMS, to traditional telephone functionalities. Patients can then choose the right technology for them, regardless of age, wealth or technical savviness.

Clinically effective

As with any other NHS service, digital health care has to be clinically effective. With quality programmes, clinicians are at the forefront of the technology’s development to ensure it meets quality standards and clinical needs.


All digital health partners must be able to provide a strong evidence base, with a clear breakdown of benefits, outcomes and limitations, to meet the NICE evidence standards framework for digital health technologies.


Digital services should be co-designed, with input from clinicians, users and digital providers. This brings together expert knowledge from the NHS and the technological know-how of digital partners, to create innovative solutions that really work. 

Purpose-built for the NHS

Digital providers need to understand the complexities, pressure and challenges of working in the NHS, and design technologies to fit with existing NHS services. Experienced suppliers should be able to identify and work with key stakeholders to make sure new technologies are adopted and rolled out successfully.

Agile design

Digital partners should be willing to design, and redesign, their service as they go, to meet changing needs in the NHS. They should take a flexible, agile approach to conceptualisation, development and evaluation.  

Value for money

Digital technologies offer an exciting opportunity to drive efficiencies and savings across the NHS. Any service chosen should offer clear economic value and evidence for the savings they can offer the NHS.


Services should be fully interoperable, with open APIs. They should be compatible with existing NHS systems, including third party wearables, self-testing devices and apps, and clinical IT systems, such as EMIS Web and SystmOne.

Data secure

Digital health suppliers should be transparent and accountable about data use, and make data security a priority, in line with the government’s code of conduct for data-driven health and care technology


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