100% digital – shining a light on digital health and care in Leeds #LDF19

Victoria Betton

23rd April 2019

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Each spring, the Leeds Digital Festival corrals the digital community to put on its Sunday best and parade our northern finery to the world. With a thriving digital health and care sector in the city, we are super proud at mHabitat to curate this theme of the festival on behalf of the NHS and local authority, in partnership with a whole range of local and national bodies. You can find our programme of events here.

Digital and the inverse care law

With technology woven throughout the NHS Long Term Plan there has never been more of a focus on the role of digital in enabling transformation of health and care services. However, in stark contrast, barely a day goes by where we don’t encounter the most basic barriers to uptake of  technology, not only in services but in people’s everyday lives. Whether it be community nurses whose laptops either take forever to boot up, or young people in excluded communities confused about how to navigate the web, we need to think critically about both infrastructure and human factors. If we fail to do this then we run the risk of exacerbating the inverse care law and worsening health inequalities.

One way to understand how we balance the promise of digital technology with the realities of health and care services, and the lived experience of patients and citizens, is to bring people together from a wide range of disciplines to deliberate. Our events endeavour to blend a variety of perspectives and expertise – academics with clinicians; citizens with philosophers, ethicists with industry – and so on. Our 100% Digital Leeds programme brings together international, national and local experts to move our thinking forward as a city and beyond.

Digital as sanctuary for refugees

Despite the fact that the majority of the population own a smartphone, we know there remain stubborn areas of digital exclusion with 6.5 million people who never use the internet. Building on the amazing digital inclusion work done by Leeds Libraries, our Can Digital Offer Sanctuary? event shines a light on what technology means to people seeking asylum and refuge in our city. We’ll hear first hand from people who have personal experience as refugees and those who offer support, alongside academic and practitioner points of view.

Social media and vulnerable teens

A topic that is close to my heart is how practitioners can support vulnerable teens in their use of social media, digital and the internet (self-promotion klaxon – I even co-wrote a book about it last year). So I am particularly looking forward to this event which brings a range of experts, including international academic heavy weight Sonia Livingstone; a group of Mindmate Ambassadors; and the Leeds Playhouse youth theatre group, to approach this issue from a variety of points of view. Adult voices often drown out those of young people, so we have provided plenty of space for young people to have their say.

And lots more…

The above are just a couple of highlights. There is a whole lot more going on during the festival. You can check out the full programme of health and care themed events here.

Victoria Betton

Victoria Betton


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