Digital health and technology

Increasingly, digital technology such as smartphone apps and virtual reality are being used to help patients prevent, manage and recover from long term health conditions such as stroke.

During the pandemic, stroke teams are now working more remotely to reduce the risk of infection, which has required the rapid implementation of virtual consultation and rehabilitation. National community and secondary care guidance as well as local guidance has been released to support these ways of working and to provide examples of best practice. A national community hub with resources and a community of practice has been launched.

It is essential that healthcare professionals select and utilise digital technology appropriately, ideally using evidenced based products that have been endorsed by the NHS or a similar body. A product must be beneficial to its user, and should also comply with UK information governance requirements, with cost and accessibility other important considerations.

Digital health technology can be used to help stroke patients (and their carers) in the following ways:

  • Stimuli for skilled and functional therapy
  • Home practice
  • Assessment
  • Stroke prevention and healthier lifestyles
  • Emotional well-being
  • Education
  • Social engagement and peer support

The NHS app library has been established to help inform professionals and the public, with other organisations such as ORCHA providing searches for rated apps with a site set up for physiotherapy for CSP members. Aphasia software finder is an up to date website that can be used to find products relating to the condition.

Healthcare professional bodies may have codes of conduct for using technology, as may local NHS Trusts and these should be followed by clinicians.



National guidance

National guidance on remote working for community teams

NHS Specialty guide on management of remote consultations and working in secondary care during coronavirus pandemic

Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists guidance on use of apps (key points)

COVID-19: guide for rapid implementation of remote consultations – Guidance by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists

Information on providing online services – guidance from the HCPC

Remote and virtual working

National community hub with resources and a community of practice

BMJ paper on Rapid implementation of virtual clinics due to COVID-19

GMSODN working more virtually webinar #2

GMSODN remote working webinar #1

GiRFT/Oxford AHSN: Developing virtual clinics for managing TIA and minor stroke during the COVID-19 pandemic

accuRX – NHS endorsed software for remote consultations

Attend Anywhere – widely used in the NHS for video consultations

Video consultations for COVID-19 – Trisha Greenhalgh

Self management

Stroke Association low level activity resources

GMSODN suggested digital health technology products (v1.1 Oct 19) – Built on work by the Greater Manchester Neuro Rehabilitation Operational Delivery Network

Bridges self management resources for community rehabilitation

Physiotools – for creating home based exercise programs

Multi Device Agreements – guide to setting up devices such as tablets to reduce the cost of purchasing apps