6. Safeguarding and self-evaluation

How can I protect myself and my information when using digital tools?

Before you start using a tool to help you with your health, care and wellbeing, make sure that it is safe to do so. You can do this by checking that the information the tool provides is from a trusted source. You might also want to check that any activities it recommends are suitable for you.

How can I tell if a tool is authentic, safe and right for me?

 Any health and care tool should make the following obvious:

  • who developed it
  • what its purpose is
  • who it is for.

Take special care if the tool is asking you for very personal or sensitive information. In this case, you might want to check how this information will be used.

If in doubt, it is best to discuss it with someone you trust. In some cases, your healthcare provider may be able to offer some support. Certain charities also have roles such as “Digital Champions”. They might be able tell whether a tool is suitable for you or not. Check ALISS to see if any organisations around you offer digital skills support.

How can I tell whether my information is safe?

Any digital tool must tell you how your information and any data you provide will be used. This is the law under the Data Protection and GDPR regulations. They must give you this information before you download or access the tool. You should receive enough information to allow you to make an informed choice. Unfortunately, this is often written in complicated legal language in privacy policies.

To minimise risk, take the time to review what information different tools request of you. The more sensitive the information, the more care you should take. Try reading the privacy notice to make sure your information will be kept safe, secure and private.

Unfortunately, not everyone will process your data lawfully. There have been cases where companies shared information with others without consent. Most often, data is sold for targeted advertisements. But other misuses of data might be even more dangerous. So always consider what you may want to disclose in the first place and who with.

How can I tell if the tool I'm using is working for me?

If you’re not sure whether a tool is working for you, try revisiting the reasons you tried it in the first place. Any self evaluation needs to be against your own goals. The tool must fit with where you are on your journey.

Be prepared for things to not always go to plan straight away. It can take time to find the tool that is right for you. For example, sometimes too much tracking can increase anxiety. Or too much information can be overwhelming. Or, if you’re not feeling well on a particular day, to be reminded of it through an app can be frustrating. Sometimes technology can be overwhelming, or it can fail. Not all digital tools are easy to use.

So, if you’re not sold on an app, try considering what you liked and what you didn’t like about it. You can make a note of it and revisit the questions we proposed earlier. You can do this either by yourself or with someone you trust. And if you want to, you can always give another tool a go. There might also be support elsewhere. Charities or support services might know of good tools for managing specific conditions. You could ask them for support of reflect on your experiences with digital tools. You could also try discussing your experiences with some of your peers.

But if you do find the right tool for you, you might start seeing some improvements. Some less obvious benefits reported after using digital health and care tools are:

  • Better understanding and acceptance of a certain condition
  • A tendency to be more proactive about your own wellbeing
  • Feeling more in control and less anxious
  • Improved self management skills

In the long run, all self management work is valuable work. Even by just trying a new tool, you will have learned something new. For example, you might have a better idea of what works and what doesn’t.  You can use this information in the future to make sure that your needs are met.

Good luck and should you want to let us know how you got on, message us at DHCscot@alliance-scotland.org.uk.  

Find out more:

You have just completed the sixth section of this guide:

  1. About / How to use this guide
  2. The big picture
  3. Digital tools for self management
  4. Digital NHS services
  5. Technology enabled care
  6. Safeguarding and self-evaluation
  7. Glossary and references


About the ALLIANCE

The Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE) is the national third sector intermediary for a range of health and social care organisations. We have a growing membership of over 3,000 national and local third sector organisations, associates in the statutory and private sectors, disabled people, people living with long term conditions and unpaid carers.

The ALLIANCE vision is for a Scotland where people of all ages who are disabled or living with long term conditions, and unpaid carers, have a strong voice and enjoy their right to live well, as equal and active citizens, free from discrimination, with support and services that put them at the centre.

Since 2018, we have managed the Discover Digital project, with support from the Scottish Government Digital Health and Care and the Technology Enabled Care divisions.

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Last reviewed: 28/02/2023

Author(s): The ALLIANCE.

Version: 2.0

Author email(s): DHCscot@alliance-scotland.org.uk.