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Using physical activity open data in referrals settings

This project has been learning how open data and local physical activity opportunities can be put to best use within referral settings and support the achievement of a range of health and wellbeing outcomes.

Using physical activity open data in referrals settings

The project, funded by the Greater London Authority (GLA) and Sport England, sought to identify the needs of service users, referral agencies and local physical activity providers, in respect to the effective inclusion of physical activity within referral pathways.

We explored how local referral agencies* can use open data** to make it easier for their service users and link workers, or other health and social care professionals or volunteers, to find a local physical activity or sport session that is right for them.

From our work delivering social prescription link-worker training, we know that those who engage with service users, require up-to-date information on local, relevant activity opportunities.

The project also looked to identify and develop potential solutions, proof of concepts or data integrations with referral services, in response to their needs.

To do this, London Sport funded five digital platform providers to test and develop their solutions with link workers.

London Sport’s hypothesis was that utilising open data to provide a live feed of relevant physical activity opportunities, which can be easily filtered by a link worker or service user, will increase the quality and quantity of physical activity referral.

The general conclusion on whether an open data powered solution makes it easier for link workers and/or service users to find a suitable activity session was positive.

However, due to restrictions and the knock-on effect of covid-19, it was not possible to test whether an open data-powered solution does lead to more service users taking up physical activity opportunities.

Physical Activity Referral Project Updates

RESOURCE: We have published a trio of resources at the conclusion of the research phase of this project. As well as our final report, you can find a summary of research into nine different referral services in London as well as a number of insights raised by link workers which were grouped into 11 unmet needs. A webinar, held to share our methodology, key finds and recommendations, is also available in the webinars section towards the bottom of this page.

OPPORTUNITY: We have been learning how open data about local physical activity opportunities can be put to best use within referral settings (such as Social Prescription) and support the achievement of a range of health and wellbeing outcomes. This webinar is a presentation of our findings along with a demo of some of the technical solutions developed.

NEWS: A number of organisations submitted their proposals via the funding portal, with five organisations selected to receive funding to develop and test their proposed solutions. The five organisations that received funding were Digital Coproduction, Elemental, Health Place, Healum and Playwaze, and you can read more about which referral services they are working with and their proposed solutions in this news article.  Each organisation now has until the end of May 2021 to develop and test their solutions, before reporting their findings back to London Sport.

NEWS:  Taking the findings from the three workshops we previously held, we worked with an innovation agency called 100%Open to arrive at 11 areas of unmet need.  These included seven areas that could potentially be solved through the use of open data, along with four broader areas of unmet need.  Problem statements were created for the seven potential areas, asking the question of how could open data improve this unmet need.  Examples of potential solutions to these problem statements were brought to life through idea frames, which were presented to the interested tech systems at a workshop on the 18th February (see recording below).  Finally, the funding portal opened for interested systems to submit their proposals.  An interim report containing all of the above can be seen in the Resources and Learning tab below.

NEWS: We ran workshops two and three, with additional input from activity providers that currently accept referrals in workshop three. Findings from all three of the workshops will be shared in February, and will be used, alongside the findings from the tech systems exploration, to explore potential solutions and developments to existing systems to make it easier to refer into local activity sessions.

NEWS: More than 20 link workers attended the first of three workshops, the workshops are aimed to understand the experience of person-centred conversations within a social prescription service, the current processes used to help find and recommend local activity sessions, and to explore what developments could help improve this process.

OPPORTUNITY: We invited expressions of interest from any tech systems that wanted to explore the feasibility of integrating an open data feed of physical activity opportunities into their system in order to benefit link workers or service users. We hosted a presentation for any of the interested tech systems, with input from OpenActive and imin.

OPPORTUNITY: We invited expressions of interest from social prescription services and other services that engage with Londoners in their local communities and provide advice, guidance and connect them to opportunities that would benefit their health and wellbeing to take part in the project.

Resources and Learnings

Learn more about our methodology, key findings and recommendations and next steps in our full report into our work using physical activity open data in referrals settings.

A recording of the webinar where we presented our findings is available below.

This is the summary of research into nine different referral services in London. The findings in this blueprint are an amalgamation of processes that can happen within the referrals process, but not a representation of how all services work.

A number of key insights were raised during the three workshops held with link workers, which were grouped into 11 unmet needs. These 11 areas of unmet need raise potentially relevant issues for activity providers, service commissioners and planners, as well as those working in social prescribing or other referral schemes

Webinars you may have missed:

21 July 2021

Using physical activity open data in referrals settings

A webinar to share our methodology, key findings, recommendations, and next steps following the publication of our full report into our research into using physical activity open data in referrals settings.

18 February 2021

Tech Referral systems workshop – Open data in referrals

A webinar specifically aimed at tech systems that had expressed an interest in being involved in the project.  This webinar provides an overview of the work performed in phase 1 and phase 2 of the project, plus explains the next steps for those systems looking to submit a proposal for funding.

18 November 2020

Using open data to support referrals into physical activity

An introductory webinar for organisations that had expressed an interest in the project.  This webinar provides an overview of the project, along with presentations from the ODI on OpenActive, and imin on their services.

Interim Report:

This is an interim report as of February 2021, including the research conducted with link workers to understand the experience of supporting service users into physical activity sessions, plus the unmet needs that arose and examples of potential solutions which were created.

Definitions:

* Referral agencies are organisations that engage with people in their local community and provide advice and guidance and connect them to opportunities that would benefit their health and wellbeing. These include Social Prescription and other health and wellbeing or community support services e.g., Health Hubs and Long-Term Condition Pathway services including Diabetes, Mental Health and Obesity.

** In the context of this project, open data refers to information about physical activity opportunities that are made publicly accessible. To understand more about ‘open data’ in the context of sport and physical activity please click here.

More information and contact details:

For more information around our Physical Activity Referral project, please contact project lead Chris on chris.norfield@londonsport.org