Digital skills essential for good health, report finds
Access to the internet and having digital skills are essential for people's health and wellbeing, a new report has found.
NHS Digital, part of the UK's National Health Service, undertook a three-year project that trialled digital technology with disadvantaged communities as part of the NHS' Widening Digital Participation Programme. The report concluded that to reduce health inequalities, tackling the 'digital divide' is essential.
Covid-19 and the resulting increase in the use of technology has exposed the links between economic disadvantage and digital exclusion, the authors say.
Throughout the programme, several digital health hubs were set up across England, with the aim of building digital healthcare literacy and improving access to services.
Between 2017 and 2020 almost 300,000 people were reached through 23 'pathfinder' projects. Managed by social change charity Good Things Foundation, the projects trialled different ways of using digital technology to improve the health of the most excluded people in society.
The projects included using tablets to triage the health problems of homeless people, and promoting breast screening through Facebook - this led to an increase in uptake and has now been adopted elsewhere in England.
Another initiative involved loaning tech to individuals caring for people with dementia, who reported huge benefits to their wellbeing.
The report's authors are now recommending creating a network of digital hubs that can support people to use different devices and assistive technologies. They also emphasised the importance of spending time with people to understand their needs, and design services with them, instead of for them.
“The pathfinders were developed around the principle of going to where people are, whether that was a GP surgery, a homeless shelter, a dementia support group or a cancer support network" explained Nicola Gill, director of the Widening Digital Participation Programme at NHS Digital.
“Being there, talking to people, drinking tea and learning about their lives allowed us to gain trust and valuable insights into what they really need.
“If NHS commissioners, policy makers and designers of digital health services and tools can do just some of the things recommended in this report, then hopefully we can start to narrow the gap of health inequalities, and help people benefit from the choice and convenience they offer.”
Check Point: Securing the future of enterprise IT
Cybersecurity solutions provider Check Point was founded in 1993 with a mission to secure ‘everything,’ and that includes the cloud. Conscious that nothing remains static in the digital world, the company prides itself on an ability to integrate new technology with its solutions. Across almost three decades in operation, Check Point, with its team of over 3,500 experts, has become adept at protecting networks, endpoints, mobile, IoT, and cloud.
“The pandemic has been somewhat of an accelerator in the evolution of cyber risk,” explains Erez Yarkoni, Global VP for Cloud Business. “We had remote workers and cloud adoption a long time beforehand, but now the volume and surface area is far greater.” Formerly a CIO for several big-name telcos before joining Check Point in 2019, Yarkoni considers the cloud to be “part of [his] heritage” and one of modern IT’s most valuable tools.
Check Point has three important ‘product families’, Quantum, CloudGuard, and Harmony, with each one providing another layer of holistic IT protection:
- Quantum: secures enterprise networks from sophisticated cyber attacks
- CloudGuard: acts as a scalable and unified cloud-native security platform for the protection of any cloud
- Harmony: protects remote users and devices from cyber threats that might compromise organisational data
However, more than just providing security, Yarkoni emphasises the need for software to be proactive and minimise the possibility of threats in the first instance. This is something Check Point assuredly delivers, “the industry recognises that preventing, not just detecting, is crucial. Check Point has one platform that gives customers the end-to-end cover they need; they don't have to go anywhere else. That level of threat prevention capability is core to our DNA and across all three product lines.”
In many ways, Check Point’s solutions’ capabilities have actually converged to meet the exact working requirements of contemporary enterprise IT. As more companies embark on their own digital transformation journeys in the wake of COVID-19, the inevitability of unforeseen threats increases, which also makes forming security-based partnerships essential. Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP) sought out Check Point for this very reason when it was in the process of selecting Microsoft Azure as its cloud provider. “Let's be clear: Azure is a secure cloud, but when you operate in a cloud you need several layers of security and governance to prevent mistakes from becoming risks,” Yarkoni clarifies.
The partnership is a distinctly three-way split, with each bringing its own core expertise and competencies. More than that, Check Point, HOOPP and Microsoft are all invested in deepening their understanding of each other at an engineering and developmental level. “Both of our organisations (Check Point and Microsoft) are customer-obsessed: we look at the problem from the eyes of the customer and ask, ‘Are we creating value?’” That kind of focus is proving to be invaluable in the digital era, when the challenges and threats of tomorrow remain unpredictable. In this climate, only the best protected will survive and Check Point is standing by, ready to help.
“HOOPP is an amazing organisation,” concludes Yarkoni. “For us to be successful with a customer and be selected as a partner is actually a badge of honor. It says, ‘We passed a very intense and in-depth inspection by very smart people,’ and for me that’s the best thing about working with organisations like HOOPP.”