Evergreen Life and Public Consulting Group (PCG) have joined forces to launch an innovative new digital Social Prescribing tool that helps people access community resources.
The tool has been co-designed with three Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and Bradford Metropolitan District Council. It is initially being deployed in three GP practices across Bradford and Wharfedale before being made available in other areas. Its aim is to help people take control of their health and wellbeing, by connecting them with groups and activities in their community. The three CCGs included are Bradford City, Bradford Districts and Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven CCG.
The traditional approach to Social Prescribing has been a face-to-face referral from a health professional. This puts extra pressure on already busy GP practices and makes it harder for people to get the appropriate referrals at the right time.
Pairing up powerful technology platforms from leaders in healthcare tech
PCG are already working with over 30 local authorities across England – including Bradford Council - to deliver Adult Social Care & Wellbeing platforms that provide people with choice and enable them to self-care.
Evergreen Life’s personal health record app helps people to take more control over their health and wellbeing. Evergreen Life offers NHS-assured online GP services such as access to GP records, booking doctor’s appointments and ordering prescriptions. Within the app, people can also monitor their own health conditions, set medication reminders, and track their health and fitness. By combining their GP medical record with their personal health record, and the ability to securely share the record with chosen others, people are truly taking control of their health with the Evergreen Life app. More than 500,000 people are currently using Evergreen Life.
Social prescribing – a new approach
The social prescribing tool, the first of its kind, takes patient facing services and personal health record technology and combines this with community directory software to produce personalised digital social prescriptions. This links people with groups, organisations and activities in their communities using coded data from their own GP records. For example, if a patient with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) books an appointment online or orders a repeat prescription, they are matched with non-medical activities that have been shown to benefit the condition such as local choir groups, swimming sessions or walking groups. The patient can further personalise the generated social prescription by removing or adding groups with the ability to save, print and share the prescription.
Social prescribing is key to the future of healthcare
There is growing evidence to support health creation and social prescribing recognising that much of today’s ill health is linked to social causes and the wider determinants of health.
A 2010 analysis of almost 309,000 people, showed a 50 per cent increased likelihood of survival for people with stronger social relationships, comparable with stopping smoking. Work by Timebanking UK and Spice has shown that people are less likely to be reliant on health services if they are involved in community activity and evidence from the National Social Prescribing Network suggests that social prescribing reduces demand on primary and secondary care. The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has also just called for funding for all GP practices to introduce social prescribing.
The tool is not intended to replace face-to-face social prescribing services but to complement them. A digital approach can personalise care and offer many more people greater choice and control over their health and wellbeing.
Collette Connolly, head of commissioning for self-care and prevention at the Bradford CCGs said:
“Technology is changing the way we can control our health and wellbeing and there are more and more opportunities for people to use technology to help them to self- care and manage health conditions. This social prescribing system will automatically provide people across Bradford with tailored suggestions about local activities or groups whilst they book appointments and order repeat prescriptions online. It will also provide GPs with an easy way to offer non-medical support that can help people to live happier, healthier lives.”
Dr Brian Fisher, GP and strategy director at Evergreen Life, commented: “We’re excited to work together with PCG, Bradford Metropolitan District Council and the three CCGS in the area, on what will be the next generation of social prescribing. Our unique approach combines online Patient-Facing Services with Community Directories & Self-Serve tools to produce an automated, personalised Social Prescription, using coded data from patients’ own GP records.”
David Bowes, managing director of PCG, said: "Since 2008, PCG Technology Solutions has been leading the way in web-based social care solutions that empower and enable people to be independent, take charge of their lives and to have choice and control over their care, support and wellbeing. We have long recognised the synergies between health and social care and we are delighted to be working with Bradford and Evergreen Life to provide citizens with a Personalised Social Prescription.”
 Social relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-Analytic Review, Julianne Holt-Lunstadd, Timothy B Smith, J. Bradley Layton
 A review of the evidence assessing impact of social prescribing on healthcare demand and cost implications, Pollet M., Bertotti M., Kimberlee R., Pilkington K., Refsum, C.