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Digital Health Academy adds new CPD-accredited module to bridge the engagement gap between health innovators and patients

  • New module aims to provide a framework for digital health innovators and help educate clinicians who are increasingly prescribing tech solutions
  • Supports the growing cohort of over 500 clinical entrepreneurs working in the NHS to create patient-centric technology1
  • This practical learning resource launches at a critical moment, as the NHS looks to embed its digital-first approach and during its first winter since the pandemic2



March 2023

Launching today, the new ‘Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement’ learning module has been created specifically to support the development and delivery of patient-centric technologies, at a time of critical digital transformation in the NHS. The foundation level module will be freely available at and on the Health Education England NHS Learning Hub (

There are 300,000 healthcare apps currently live on the UK market3 but only 6 in 10 innovators consult patients before development4. Whilst transformation gathers pace in the NHS, patients are too often at the periphery of the conversation when developing new innovations.

No training previously exists on conducting effective patient and public involvement and engagement (PPIE), leading to wasted resource on unsuitable technologies at a time when the healthcare system simply cannot afford it. The module aims to educate innovators who are creating new technology, and the clinicians who are prescribing these solutions. Crucially, the module also provides valuable support to the 500 NHS clinicians who are on the Clinical Entrepreneur Programme.

The module is an introduction to the first evidence-based framework for PPIE, launched by the University of Plymouth, the AHSN Network (the national voice of the 15 academic health science networks in England) and Boehringer Ingelheim UK & Ireland. It helps to fast-track learning for the EnACT principles described in the framework, outlining how to involve patients in product innovation and critical issues such as data privacy, intellectual property, inclusivity, reimbursement, useability, and recruitment of patients.

Dr Tom Micklewright, General Practitioner and Clinical Director of ORCHA spoke about the critical need for the new module, "Digital health tools have the potential to transform how frontline workers deliver healthcare, but this will only work if patients use the tools. I've seen first-hand how some health apps have lost the confidence of patients because they were never really designed with usability in mind. I hope having this module on the Academy will help clinical entrepreneurs at a practical level and will also help my colleagues on the frontline understand more about health app development."

Liz Ashall-Payne, CEO of ORCHA said, "We're very pleased to be adding this excellent module onto our Academy platform. The Academy exists to help frontline health and care workers build their digital confidence and skills, and part of this learning is an understanding of how these digital tools have been developed by clinical entrepreneurs in the first place. This highly instructive video module, which is based on an award-winning training manual, will do just that. ORCHA will also be making this module available to the digital health developer community, through a new portal."

Naj Rotheram, Medical Lead for Partnerships at Boehringer Ingelheim UK and Ireland commented, “The most effective patient resources are co-designed, so we are extremely proud to have been involved in the development of this latest module. The work conducted on the PPIE initiative reinforces Boehringer Ingelheim’s commitment to delivering patient-centric digital transformation, helping to create a more sustainable healthcare system.”

The Digital Health Academy was launched in 2022 in response to the lack of mandatory digital health training for health and care professionals. Since its launch, the ORCHA Digital Health Academy has been consistently amongst the most-accessed courses on the Health Education England Learning Hub.




  1. NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme. (2022) Angela Ruskin University. Available at: (Accessed December 02, 2022)
  2. Putting data, digital and tech at the heart of transforming the NHS. (2021) Department of Health and Social Care. Available at: (Accessed December 02, 2022)
  3. ORCHA Data Insight Report 2022.
  4. Digital Innovation within the NHS, barriers & opportunities: An Innovator's perspective. ORCHA 2021.



Notes to editor


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ENACT Principles



The principle is to involve people early and throughout. To do that successfully, it is helpful to consider your strategy carefully: why are you conducting PPIE and how do you want people to feel during the process? The different ways of engagement should also be considered: are you looking to conduct user research, test the product, and at which phase. This can impact how people are involved.


Acknowledge, Value and Support:

The principle is to collaboratively discuss and agree Intellectual Property (IP) rights from the outset, so you must be clear on who owns the IP and how contributions will be governed.



The principle is to develop a feedback loop. This should be an iterative process which entails communicating with participants often about how and why their contributions have been included (or not) and provides the foundation to build meaningful relationships.


Trust and Transparency:

The principle is to provide clear assurances and information about patient confidentiality, data privacy and security which requires being transparent, no matter what. If you want to be perceived as trustworthy, be open about risks and respect people’s decisions.



About Health Education England


Our purpose as part of the NHS, is to work with partners to plan, recruit, educate and train the health workforce. Health Education England exists for one reason and one reason only: our vision is to help improve the quality of life and health and care services for the people of England by ensuring the workforce of today and tomorrow has the right skills, values and behaviours, in the right numbers, at the right time and in the right place. We are people centred, committed to the NHS Constitution, and driven by our values of responsibility, inclusiveness, fairness, and confidence.


Our goals are to deliver and reform education to produce the best possible future workforce; to transform the current workforce to meet tomorrow's health and care needs; and ensure the quality of our education and training system.


About ORCHA 

The Organisation for the Review of Care and Health Apps (ORCHA) is the world’s leading, independent digital health evaluation and distribution organisation. It helps health and care organisations to deliver the right digital health apps, to the right people, at the right time. Its unique insight, assessment, and implementation services are improving the health of the population, the health of our health systems and the health of the health app ecosystem. ORCHA conducts reviews for government organisations across Europe, the Middle East, and Australasia. In the UK, ORCHA conducts reviews for NHS Digital and NHS providers in 70% of regions. NHS England is accelerating adoption across the NHS, placing ORCHA in its National Innovation Accelerator Programme. 



About Boehringer Ingelheim

We are Boehringer Ingelheim - a different kind of pharmaceutical company. 

Family-owned. Purpose-led. Innovation-driven: We improve health for people and animals. 


Making new and better medicines for humans and animals is at the heart of what we do. Our mission is to create breakthrough therapies that change lives. Established in 1885, we have always been independent and family-owned, meaning we have the freedom to pursue our purpose - identifying health challenges of the future, and targeting areas of need where we can do the most good. 


By working collaboratively, we accelerate the delivery of medical breakthroughs to transform the lives of patients now, and for generations to come. 


In the UK we do this through scientific innovation – taking on the biggest challenges in medicine. We invest in sustainable healthcare - planning for the long term alongside the NHS and our partners in the veterinary world. We support digital transformation by partnering with innovators to drive healthcare improvements. 


We are committed to tackling the challenge of climate change and support the NHS in its ambition to be net zero by 2045. We have an emissions reduction strategy approved by Science Based Targets initiative, aligned to minimising global warming to 1.5 degrees


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Last Updated: 23-Mar-2023