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Quiz: What do you know about digital health technology?

1. Which free iPhone app was downloaded the most times in England in 2021?

  • Step tracking app
  • Social media app
  • Food delivery app
  • The NHS App
  • Meditation app
  • Healthy recipe app


2. How many repeat prescriptions were ordered via the NHS App in the past year?

  • 13 thousand
  • 2 million
  • 16 million


3. The widespread introduction of digital healthcare can risk excluding people who do not have access to, or do not use, digital technology (digital exclusion). Certain groups of the population are at higher risk of digital exclusion.

How many people aged 70+ do not use, or have access to, the internet?

  • 1 in 5 (20%)
  • 1 in 3 (30%)
  • 2 in 5 (40%)


4. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to increases in the use of technology to provide healthcare, such as in virtual wards. But what exactly are they?

Virtual wards:
(please select 2 options)

  • Are only for people with COVID-19 to be cared for without infecting others
  • Allow people with a range of conditions to be cared for in their place of preference, instead of in hospital
  • Often make use of remote monitoring (apps, technology platforms, wearables and medical devices such as blood pressure monitors)
  • Never involve face-to-face contact


5. Data privacy is a concern associated with digital health tech. Information is shared when people receive NHS care. But what exactly does the NHS do with this data?
(please select 2 options)

  • Shares patient records (name, contact details, health information) with relevant healthcare professionals
  • Shares patient records with other contacts (wider healthcare community, government, researchers in academia and industry)
  • Shares anonymised records (health information which would not identify anyone; name and contact details are removed) with other contacts (wider healthcare community, government, researchers in academia and industry)
  • Sells data for commercial purposes, such as to insurance or marketing companies


6. Digital health tech is progressing rapidly, and thousands of health apps and digital technologies are available. How is digital health technology that enters the health and social care system evaluated and regulated?

  • All digital health tech entering the NHS must be assessed (everything from apps used by patients to digital systems used by hospitals)
  • Only the digital health tech used by patients needs to be assessed
  • Digital health tech does not need to be assessed



The NHS App, which has now recorded more than 28 million sign-ups [NHS Digital 2022]. 

All GP practices in England are connected to the NHS App. The app allows you to view your COVID pass (vaccine details), access GP health records, order repeat prescriptions, and access health advice.

The NHS is continuing to develop the app, and aims to make it the ‘front door’ to NHS services. The plan is to allow you to use the app to manage hospital and secondary care (specialist) appointments, to have online consultations, and to enable more reminders about appointments and screening invitations.

Over 16 million repeat prescriptions were ordered via the NHS App in the year July 2021 to July 2022 [NHS Digital 2022]. 

Ordering prescriptions via the app is more convenient, and can save you a trip to the doctors. It also frees up healthcare professionals’ time. NHS Digital estimates that use of the NHS App instead of GP visits saved an average of 22,000 car journeys per month, lowering the carbon footprint of the NHS [NHS Digital 2022].

2 in 5 (40%) of people aged 70+ do not use, or have access to the internet. 

Other groups at risk of digital exclusion include people who are financially vulnerable, those with certain health conditions (such as difficulties seeing, or moving their fingers), and people with learning disabilities. 

These groups already face barriers getting the healthcare they need. Digital advances could further widen inequalities.

Virtual wards allow people with a range of conditions to be cared for in their place of preference, safely and conveniently. This includes at home, and in care homes. 

Virtual wards often use remote monitoring, with medical devices such as heart rate or blood pressure monitors. Patients and carers can take readings, and submit these online for healthcare providers to review. Support may also involve face-to-face care from health professionals.

Some people with severe illnesses may be better treated in hospital. However, many people can benefit from being treated at home. The NHS plans to roll out more virtual wards, aiming to provide personalised care, free up hospital beds, and tackle waiting list backlogs.

The NHS shares patient records with relevant healthcare professionals, and shares anonymised records with other contacts. Healthcare professionals need access to their patients’ information to make decisions about care and treatment. 

The wider healthcare community, government, and researchers are allowed access to selected anonymised records. They cannot see information that identifies people. Data sharing is crucial to allow research and improvement in the NHS

All NHS data is protected by strict rules around privacy and security. The NHS only shares patient data when there is a strong and valid reason to do so. The NHS allows people to opt out of sharing their data for research and planning.

All digital health tech entering the NHS and social care system is assessed using The Digital Technology Assessment Criteria (DTAC). Tech is assessed against 5 criteria, including safety, usability, and data protection, to ensure it meets NHS standards.

Digital health tech not used in the NHS (for example, apps found in smartphone app stores) may not need to be assessed by such strict standards. The NHS has evaluated and recommended some apps available via app stores. These include an app to help people take up running (Couch to 5k), as well as apps to help people quit smoking, reduce their alcohol intake, or lose weight and eat healthily.

Congratulations on completing our quiz!

Digital health technologies present great opportunities to benefit health and care, and are advancing rapidly. As we move forwards, concerns around data privacy, regulation of tech, and digital exclusion must be addressed.

Read below to find out how NIHR research is advancing digital health technology, and what is needed as we progress further into the digital age.


Head back to the Collection: What is digital health technology and what can it do for me?