Typologies of digital exclusion - A Healthwatch report, July 2022

We spoke to 20 people who had ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ internet skills. This study showed that the context of use was an important part of digital exclusion, with some people happy to use the internet for some purposes but not for health and care.
Person at computer

Healthwatch Brighton and Hove recently surveyed patients registered with any GP surgery in the East and Central Brighton Primary Care Network (eight GP practices in total).

One of the survey aims was to follow up with respondents to explore their use of digital technology. To do this, we interviewed 20 people who stated in the questionnaire that they preferred ‘not to use the online GP appointment booking system’ (e.g. e-consult) and rated their internet skills as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’.

These interviews generated four types of digital exclusion typologies:

  1. Non-users (people who did not see the need for the internet and felt it was more natural to speak to someone);

  2. competent digital users but not in the context of healthcare (commonly used the internet for shopping, banking, booking holidays and having video calls with loved ones, however, found the complicated nature of the online booking system in a health care setting put them off);

  3. potential users (currently, do not use digital technology due to a lack of skills or technology, however, would be interested with the right support);

  4. recent users (those who have become more interested during the pandemic with the predominance of online bookings and appointments).

These typologies provide insights into the barriers and facilitating factors towards the use of digital technology. While technological barriers persist, one of the most significant findings is that some people can use the necessary technology but choose not to in the healthcare environment. The context of use is now added to the more recognised barriers of motivation, skills, trust, access to technology and connectivity, and costs.

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Read our report on digital exclusion categories

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