The power of digital in the prevention of ill health

September 30, 2020

Combatting preventable causes of disease is a key NHS priority. According to the King’s Fund, seven in ten adults do not follow the NHS-recommended guidelines on tobacco, alcohol, diet and physical activity, which contribute to such health conditions as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and poor mental health. NHS organisations need to collaborate with local authorities and other partners to provide the tools, support and education to help south Londoners tackle the causes of poor health, live healthier lifestyles and close the physical and mental health gap.

In south west London, the NHS expects to spend a staggering £202 million over the next five years treating illnesses resulting from highly preventable causes, such as tobacco and alcohol misuse, obesity, hypertension and unhealthy levels of physical activity. There are also significant differences in life expectancy between more affluent and socially deprived areas, as well as for those with a serious mental illness. Research done at the University College London has shown strong associations between alcohol and tobacco consumption, socio-economic position and social inequalities in health.

Maintaining personal health and wellbeing can support disease prevention and be managed through:

  • peer-led courses;
  • online support to promote healthy behaviours;
  • telephone support and telehealth; and
  • digital solutions for behaviour modification.

How can innovation help?

We’d love the opportunity to collaborate with you, as an innovator, on the following challenge questions.

1. What digital solutions will enable people to recognise preventable causes of ill health and encourage a healthy lifestyle change?

2. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, how can digital tools for prevention reduce stress on front line services and support people in the community to remain well?

3. How can digital solutions reach people in higher risk groups, including those with underlying health conditions or living with socio-economic inequalities?

Desired impact / outcomes

The desired outcomes of addressing this regional challenge are:

  • The identification of evidenced-based digital solutions for active self-monitoring and reduction of health risks.
  • Solutions for how to spread the reach of digital innovations to people in high-risk groups.
  • Future partnerships between innovators and health and care teams.


We're here to help

Please get in touch with Karla Richards, Innovation Project Manager, if you have a digital solution for ill health prevention, including those that support healthy eating, stopping smoking, sleeping better, mental health and lowered risk of heart disease, and COPD.

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