Is digital health care more equitable? The framing of health inequalities within England's digital health policy 2010-2017

Emma Rich, Andy Miah, Sarah Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


Informed by a discourse analysis, this article examines the framing of equity within the UK's digital health policies between 2010 and 2017, focusing on England's development of NHS Digital and its situation within the UK Government's wider digital strategy. Analysis of significant policy documents reveals three interrelated discourses that are engaged within England's digital health policies: equity as a neoliberal imaginary of digital efficiency and empowerment; digital health as a pathway towards democratising health care through data-sharing, co-creation and collaboration; and finally, digital health as a route towards extending citizen autonomy through their access to data systems. It advances knowledge of the relationship between digital health policy and health inequalities. Revealing that while inclusion remains a priority area for policymakers, equity is being constituted in ways that reflect broader discourses of neoliberalism, empowerment and the turn to the market for technological solutionism, which may potentially exacerbate health inequalities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-49
Number of pages19
JournalSociology of Health and Illness
Issue numberS1
Early online date10 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2019


  • E-health
  • Health Policy
  • Healthism
  • Internet
  • Social determinants of health
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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