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Implications of digital health innovations on the demand, use, cost and experiences of health and social care services

Project Description

Digital health innovations, for example in the form of text messages, mobile applications, wearables, social media and interactive web platforms are increasingly used to improve population health. These innovations have the potential to provide effective and cost-effective approaches for the management of long-term conditions (e.g. hypertension), facilitating preventive care (e.g. promotion of healthy behaviours) and providing wider access to effective treatments (e.g. internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy). Most of the literature in this area has focussed on whether the specific digital health interventions improves patient’s outcomes and clinical practice, i.e. whether the intervention works. However, considerably less attention has been given to potential intended and unintended effects of digital innovations on the demand, use, cost and experiences of health and social care services.

This research would build on the ongoing NHS England Test Beds programme by evaluating digital technologies to support patients with long-term conditions; HealthUnlocked. HealthUnlocked is a social network providing peer-to-peer support for patients, caregivers and health advocates, sharing their experiences of conditions, symptoms, treatments and health services. The PhD would involve secondary analysis of existing routinely-collected data, such as linked primary, secondary and social care, and council administrative data, to evaluate the impact of these technologies on the demand and use of health and social care services. It would also include qualitative exploration of patient, carer and provider experiences. This research involves collaboration with Nuffield Trust, Care City and East London Health and Care.

This PhD project provides opportunities for undertaking quantitative (health economics) analysis and qualitative exploration of the impact of digital health innovations on the use of health and social care services.

Project-specific skills and experience required

- Skills in quantitative analysis using standard statistical software (e.g. R or STATA).
- Experience or training in qualitative and mixed-methods work.
Experience with implementing and/or evaluating digital health innovations.


For general enquiries, please email:
For project specific queries, please contact: Dr Manuel Gomes ()


For applications and other information please visit our main NIHR CLAHRC North Thames funded PhD studentships page:

CLAHRC Research area: Innovation & Implementation Science

Funding Notes

Start date: 01/10/19
Duration: 3 years, full time
Stipend: £17,803
Institution: UCL

How good is research at University College London in Public Health, Health Services and Primary Care?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 159.75

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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