Social impact and unintended consequences

Social impact and unintended consequences

Recently I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how we create true social impact in digitally enabled transformation – not just for individuals, families, services and communities but at a societal level too. I blogged about it not so long ago, and when FutureGov asked me to facilitate a group session at their Designing 21st Century Government event in Leeds, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to return to the theme. I was fortunate to share the conversation with a range of interesting minds from diverse backgrounds and multiple sectors, including a university, council, journalism, British Library, design consultancies, housing association, Government Digital Service and HMRC. We deliberated on the topic, shared experiences, asked questions and generated ideas – some of which I summarise below: Fairness – explicitly holding up fairness as an organising principle to all our work so that it is at the forefront of our thinking at all times Equality impact – using an approach similar to public sector equality impact assessments to bake in an assessment of impacts and consequences to our design process Telling stories – creating space within design processes to create narratives and tell stories of the best and worst possible impacts for the products and/or services we are developing – a creative means to anticipate possible futures – both good and bad Critical thinking – designing in critical thinking to our user research process by explicitly encouraging participants to imagine positive and negative impacts beyond the immediate use of a product of service Diverse teams – creating diverse teams who can bring multiple perspectives both in backgrounds and disciplinary expertise (including...
Standards and principles for evaluating mental health apps

Standards and principles for evaluating mental health apps

This post was originally published on the National Elf Service blog. You can find it here. A new ‘Insights’ piece has just been published in World Psychiatry (the Official Journal of the World Psychiatric Association) by John Torous et al, in which they seek to propose a consensus for a set of standards and principles for the evaluation of mental health apps (Torous et al, 2019). So why is this consensus piece so timely? As the authors note, whilst there are over 10,000 mental health apps available to download, there are few resources available to help users (people accessing mental health services, practitioners and organisations) evaluate the quality and suitability of these tools and services. It is currently not a straightforward task for users to appraise mental health apps; and how can practitioners confidently recommend digital mental health tools to the people they support, without clarity on minimum standards? It is comparatively easy to design and develop a mobile app, hence their proliferation in the marketplace, but creating a tool that is safeand efficacious is a more significant challenge. Recommendations Through deliberation with experts in the field, the authors have identified four key topic areas where they argue minimum standards should be articulated and met. Their recommendations are summarised below: 1. Data safety and privacy Data storage, use and sharing practices should fulfil healthcare standards for handling patient health information dataStandards must be transparent to the userThe end user must have the option to “opt out” of sharing their informationAny language regarding data storage, use and sharing must be written at a maximum of a 6th grade (year 7 in England) reading levelTechnical security reviews and data audits are necessary to guarantee that apps follow the standards they set out...