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Public Health England will use digital technology to improve health

Public Health England (PHE) has set out how it will use digital technologies to target people’s health needs more effectively, and engage members of the public more efficiently over the next three years.

PHE’s social marketing strategy for 2017 to 2020 said it would “radically improve the quality of the data provided to local partners, for example, by analysing smartphone location settings to ascribe a local area to app users, even when they had not registered or supplied [the PHE] with a postcode”.

The strategy also looks to work towards “a major new partnership with a digital platform owner, to enable people to make healthier changes to their lifestyles”.

PHE also aims to strengthen its existing life course programmes — Starting Well, Living Well and Ageing Well — “by continually realigning them to the latest policy and business priorities and by innovating digitally”, for example through its ‘One you active 10’ walking app, which combines activity duration and intensity.

The report also says that in the past year, an estimated extra 1.85 million visits to community pharmacies were made following the PHE and NHS England’s ‘Stay well this winter’ campaign.

The public health body said it would explore new initiatives, “such as the potential to use marketing to recruit and upskill people to take more care of their own mental health and that of those around them”.

It said its aim was to make its branded programmes part of the fabric of people’s lives, so that they appear on high streets, in schools and in GP surgeries, not just as posters or leaflets, but as prescriptions, lessons, events and locally commissioned services.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20203635

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