Digital health evolution and application: astronauts, starlings and Hedwig Kiesler

Digital health technologies in the NHS have had a largely leisurely uptake over recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, witnessed a sharp rise in their application, with remote clinical consultations in primary, secondary and tertiary care being undertaken using readily available software. Similar applications have supported the implementation of virtual wards, enabling early supported patient discharge, and numerous examples of home health technologies have enabled patients to be monitored remotely for range of health conditions. There are several terms for digital health, including telemedicine, e-health and telecare. While the pandemic contributed to the rise in digital healthcare, many of these technologies have been in existence for several years. This paper will briefly explore the history and evolution of digital health technology and discuss a number of key policies and guidance documents in some detail, including their impact on urgent and prehospital practice.