Protocol: How can people with social care needs be supported through processes of digital care navigation to access remote primary care? A multi-site case study in UK general practice of remote care as the ‘new normal’.
Hughes G., Rybczynska-Bunt S., Shasha'h S., Greene S., Shaw S., Greenhalgh T.
Background: Care navigation refers to support for patients accessing primary care and other related services. The expansion of digitally enabled care in the UK since the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has led to a greater need for digital care navigation: supporting people to access primary care digitally and, if necessary, to help them find alternative non-digital routes of access. Support to patients with social care needs (including but not limited to those who are homeless and insecurely housed, living in residential care and supported by domiciliary carers) increasingly involves work to navigate primary care provided remotely and accessed digitally. There is little knowledge about how this work is being done. Methods: Care Navigation involves embedded researchers identifying digital care navigation for patients accessing services in 11 GP practices recruited to a linked study of remote primary care (Remote care as the ‘new normal?’). Digital care navigation will be studied through go-along (in-person or remote) interviews with a sample of 20 people offering formal (paid or voluntary) support, 6 national and regional stakeholders who plan, commission or provide digital care navigation and a focus group with 12 social prescribers engaged in digital care navigation. A co-design workshop with people working in, or commissioning, social care settings will consider how findings can inform improved digital care navigation, for example through the development of resources or guidance for care navigators. Results (anticipated): Findings are anticipated to include evidence of how digital care navigation is practised, the work that is done to support patients in accessing remote primary care, and how this work is shaped by material resources and variations in the configuration of services and infrastructure. Conclusions: New explanations of the work needed to navigate digital care will inform policy and service developments aimed at helping patients benefit from remote primary care.