The RCP submitted evidence to the House of Lords COVID-19 select committee inquiry Living online: the long-term impact on wellbeing.
Our evidence submission focused on the impact that the increasing use of digital technology has on the delivery of healthcare and the doctor/patient relationship.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated an already growing trend for using digital technology in providing healthcare services. In our 2018 report Outpatients: the future, adding value through sustainability, we called for an overhaul of outpatient care and greater use of digital technology.
While digital technologies bring many benefits for patients and clinicians alike, maximising these benefits must not exacerbate health inequalities.
We recommended in our evidence that
Services must be co-designed with patients, carers and clinicians.
There must be investment in a digitally-enabled health and social care workforce, and action from government to reduce digital inequalities.
Government has an important role to play in supporting people to develop digital skills, so they do not miss out on the benefits digital healthcare can offer. It is often older people who have the most to gain from accessing these services, but will most struggle to access them due to lower digital skills.