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Technology in Palliative Care (TIP): the identification of digital priorities for palliative care research using a modified Delphi method

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal article

  • Amara Nwosu
  • Tamsin McGlinchey
  • Justin Sanders
  • Sarah Stanley
  • Jennifer Palfrey
  • Patrick Lubbers
  • Laura Chapman
  • Anne Finucane
  • Stephen Mason
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>3/07/2021
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Developments in digital health (describing technologies which use computing platforms, connectivity, software, and sensors for health care and related purposes) has the potential to transform the delivery of health and social care to help citizens manage their own health. Currently, we lack consensus about digital health research priorities in palliative care and lack theories about how these technologies might improve care outcomes. Global palliative care need is expected to increase due to the consequences of an ageing population; therefore, it is important for healthcare leaders to identify innovations to ensure that an increasingly frail population have appropriate access to palliative care services. Consequently, it is important to articulate research priorities as the first step to determine how we should allocate finite resources to a field saturated with rapidly developing innovations.

To identify research priority areas for digital health in palliative care.

We selected the digital health trends, most relevant to palliative care, from a list of emerging trends reported by the ‘Future Today Institute’. We conducted a modified Delphi process and consensus meeting with palliative care experts to identify research priorities. We used the views of public representatives to gain their perspectives of the agreed priorities.

One hundred and three experts (representing 11 countries) participated in the 1st Delphi round. Fifty-five participated in the 2nd round (53% of 1st round). Eleven experts attended the final consensus meeting. We identified 16 priorities areas, which were summarised into eight themes. These themes were: big data, mobile devices, telehealth and telemedicine, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, the smart home, biotechnology and digital legacy.

The identified priorities in this paper represent a wide range of important emerging areas in field of digital health, personalised medicine, and data science. Human-centred design and robust governance systems should be considered in future research. It is important that the risks of using these technologies in palliative care are properly addressed to ensure that these tools are used meaningfully, wisely and safely and do not cause unintentional harm.