Exploring the unexpected effects of digital health tools

Digital health tools, such as health monitoring apps and online patient portals, are becoming commonplace, with NHS England supporting their use to improve patient access and care. But this explosion in their use could lead to unexpected consequences, both positive and negative.

This project aims to understand the consequences of using digital health tools in primary care, and includes:

  • reviewing the existing research on the unexpected consequences of using digital health tools
  • in-depth interviews with patients, GPs, practice staff, commissioners and industry representatives on their perceptions and experiences of digital health
  • development of three case studies on:
    • smartphone apps that support patients to monitor and self-manage long-term conditions with their GP
    • online GP consultations
    • online patient access to medical records
  • workshops with stakeholders

This project is also known as the DECODE study.

Project aims

This study aims to improve how digital health tools are used in primary care by identifying and understanding their unexpected consequences.

Anticipated impacts

Our findings will inform guidance on the development, implementation and evaluation of digital health tools in primary care.

Lead collaborators

CLAHRC West staff

Michelle Farr

Dr Michelle Farr

profile picture Mike Bell

Mike Bell

  • Patient and Public Involvement Facilitator
  • Patient and public involvement

Partners on this project

Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group

NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (BNSSG CCG) is the organisation responsible for commissioning hospital and community health services to ensure that the health needs of BNSSG's population are met. It is made up of local GPs and health professionals from the 85 local practices, working together with other clinicians and patients to decide how the local NHS budget should be spent.

University of Bristol

The University of Bristol is internationally renowned and one of the very best in the UK, due to its outstanding teaching and research, its superb facilities and highly talented students and staff. Its students thrive in a rich academic environment which is informed by world-leading research. It hosts the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute for Health Research.

West of England Academic Health Science Network

The West of England Academic Health Science Network is a diverse network of partners working collaboratively to put innovation at the heart of healthcare, to improve patient outcomes and contribute to wealth creation. It aims to do this by translating research into practice, and developing and implementing integrated health care services.