As I write this month's editorial, we are a week away from the 20th annual British Journal of Midwifery conference, which is once again being held virtually and will be available to watch online. This is the first BJM conference that I have been involved with and I hope you all find the talks informative, interesting and engaging, as I am sure I will.
Inevitably, the events of the last few years have rapidly changed many aspects of healthcare, including an expansion into the digital and virtual world. This surge in the use of technology has had many far-reaching effects. Incorporating technology into healthcare can improve self-care and management for patients, increase uptake of health tools and services and save time and money as people access services digitally (NHS Digital, 2022). Digital healthcare can boost accessibility and efficiency across many areas, including not only healthcare services but also education and training. Our ongoing series of articles on interprofessional education and remote teaching highlights the changes brought about by the pandemic and the potential benefits to incorporating online teaching in midwifery education (Power et al, 2021; 2022; Wetzlmair et al 2021; Sy et al, 2022).
However, it is important to remember that not all groups have equal access to the necessary resources to make use of digital pathways to healthcare. Those living in rural areas may have slower internet connections, and older people are generally less likely to own smartphones and other devices that allow quick and easy access to online resources (Honeyman et al, 2020). These groups must also be considered and incorporated into plans to involve digital technology into healthcare services. For those accessing services virtually, as many needed to do during the pandemic, there are different considerations when delivering healthcare than there are for in person consultations.
The NHS (2019) long term plan makes important commitments to digital inclusion, in its goals to ‘ensure these technologies work for everyone, from the most digitally literate to the most technology averse, and reflect the needs of people trying to stay healthy as well as those with complex conditions’.