The ‘Digital Signposting Glossary’ consists of a compilation of entries to help explain some of the terms used on the Digital Social Care website and elsewhere.

For further explanation, wherever possible, it includes signposting links to trusted webpages; for example, Cyber Security and CASPA (click on each link and it takes you to more information).

We hope the Digital Signposting Glossary will assist those who are new to this to this area as well as those who are more experienced.

It will be updated at the end of each month and we would welcome your suggestions about new additions or ideas to simplify or improve current entries. Please send to Keith Strahan and Katie Thorn at hello@digitalsocialcare.co.uk

There is a list of related health and social care organisations at the end of the digital signposting glossary.



About Me – The information that people most want to share about themselves and that, when coded, can inform all health and social care records, for example, the PRSB Core Information Standard. See also: Reasonable Adjustments Flag.

Accessibility – Accessibility is the process of making web pages accessible to people with disabilities or anyone else who cannot use a computer in a conventional manner. Organisations that provide NHS or publicly-funded adult social care are legally required to follow the Accessible Information Standard but it makes sense for all to follow best practice guidelines.

Acoustic Monitoring Acoustic monitoring, in a residential care context,  consists of audio sensors that can pick up sounds that suggest someone might be having difficulties during the night. Staff are therefore alerted if they need to respond rather than routinely checking and disturbing people unnecessarily.

Administrator – A system user with the highest level of privileges in a particular system or software and sufficient access rights to allow them to manage the access rights of other system users and carry out other high-level computer management tasks.

Adware – Unwanted software which installs programs to generate advertising on your computer (often in the form of pop-up windows). Antivirus and anti-malware software can find and delete this unwanted software from your computer. See also: Antivirus Software

Android – An operating system for many mobile phones and other hand-held devices. Another operating system for mobile devices is IOS which is used specifically by Apple​.

Antivirus Software  – Software that is designed to detect, stop, and remove viruses and other kinds of malicious software from attacking your computer or mobile device. See also: Have Up-to-Date Antivirus Software.

API (Application Programming Interface) – An API is an interface that allows software programs/apps to communicate with one another regardless of how each application was originally designed. Included in standards such as FHIR. See also: FHIR.

App (Application) – A software program that you can download for your computer, tablet, or mobile phone. Can also refer to a program or tool that can be used within a website although these are commonly known as a WebApp or Website, which have the advantage of always being up to date and not needing to install software updates. See also: Install the Latest Software Updates.

Algorithm – A set of instructions or procedures used in order to accomplish a task, such as creating search results.

Archive – The place on a website where you find old news, articles, stories. etc. Alternatively, a digital archive for the digital files which an organisation is not currently using but which cannot yet be deleted.

Archiving – To move old files which may not still be in use or relevant to a separate storage area.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Artificial Intelligence is the intelligence demonstrated by a machine which can learn and make decisions for itself. Artificial Intelligence shows up in technologies as varied as spellcheck to self-driving cars. It is an area which is growing rapidly in health and social care. See also: Machine Learning and Predictive Analytics.

Assessment Discharge and Withdrawal Notices Specification – The Assessment Discharge and Withdrawal Notices Specification defines a number of FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) and API messages to support the exchange of structured information between hospitals and local authorities in England (as defined in the Care Act 2014). This standard is important as it is an example for future health and social care standards of this type.

Attachment – A document sent with an email. Many types of files can be sent this way such as Word documents, Powerpoint presentations, Excel files, PDFs, pictures etc. Email attachments are the main way to transport viruses. Never save or open attachments from unknown sources.

Assisted Living Technology (ALT) – Assisted living technology (ALT) is used as part of a range of services, such as telecare, that help people maintain independence and improve outcomes.

Audio – The audio signal on a computer or device is generated using a sound card and is heard through speakers or headphones.

Audio Clip – A sound file (for example, music or spoken word) which has been placed on the internet to either download or listen to online.

Audit Trail – A record that can be interpreted by auditors to establish that an activity has taken place. This might include user login, file access, printing and triggers that indicate whether any actual or attempted security violations occurred.

Authentication – The process for verifying that someone is who they claim to be, frequently achieved with passwords.



Backup – A backup is a copy of computer data taken and stored elsewhere, such as the Cloud, so that it may be used to restore the original after a data loss event. See also: Back Up Your Data

Bandwidth – The amount of data that can be transferred over a particular data connection in one second i.e. the speed of the connection.

Bcc (Blind Carbon Copy) – The Bcc box allows you to send an e-mail to more than one person, but their e-mail addresses are hidden from other recipients.

Beta – A software program (or website) that has not been tested enough to be on general public release. When you use it, the company concerned will use your experience of it to help reduce the product’s problems.

Benchmark – Compare products with an accepted standard.

Biometric – Using body measurements, such as fingerprints and eyes, as a means of authentication.

Blog – Short for ‘weblog’, a blog is an online publication of personal thoughts, opinions, and web links.

Bluetooth –  A type of short-range wireless connection between devices like mobile phones, headsets, and computers. This is different from Wi-Fi which is a slightly longer range wireless connection which is generally used to connect devices, such as laptops, tablets and mobile phones, to the Internet via a broadband router.

Bookmark – a saved link to a particular web page.

Boot – To start up or reset (reboot) a computer, mobile phone, or tablet.

Botnet – Abbreviation for Robot Network. A collection of otherwise unrelated PCs which have been infected by a virus and which are under the central control of criminals or hackers to gather financial or other personal information. See also: Cyber Security Guidance.

Breach – Also known as a data breach. A security incident where sensitive and personal information is copied, transmitted, viewed, or stolen. See also: Cyber Security Guidance.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Bring Your Own Device is an organisation’s policy that allows employees to use their own mobile devices for work. See also: Protect Mobile Devices and Tablets.

Broadband Broadband includes high-speed internet access in which a single cable can carry a large amount of data at once.  NHSX and NHS Digital have worked with telecommunications companies to publish a series of offers and guidance to help care homes get connected to the internet or to upgrade their existing internet connectivity during the COVID-19 crisis. Complimentary guidance has also been published by NHS Digital.

Email: accesslogistics.hub@nhs.net or see information about this on the Digital Social Care website.

Broadband Provider – A company which provides a broadband (data) so you can use browser software on your phone, tablet or computer to access (surf) the internet.

Browser – A programme that allows you to view websites and electronic files over the internet. Examples include Microsoft Edge, Google Crome, Apple Safari, Mozilla Firefox, etc.

Bug – An error in a piece of software that stops it from working the way that it should do. Most software will contain some bugs, including even the most widely used and most respected. Most bugs can be overcome by the person using the software, but occasionally they can be exploited by malicious software. See also: Cyber Security Guidance.



Cache – Temporary storage area for data other content that will be updated if the source information changes. The purpose of a cache is to reduce the time to retrieve the same information more than once, and most modern systems will use multiple levels of cache. Downloading content is not a cache because it doesn’t update if the source information changes.

Capacity Tracker – All Care Homes have been asked by the government to start using a Capacity Tracker as a priority to make vacancy information available to NHS and social care colleagues in real-time.

Care/Case Management Software – Care or Case Management Software is a shared database of all client information. This information is stored in a common location, so it is accessible by all staff. It includes demographic information (names, addresses, phone numbers, etc.) and should at least enable access to historic entries and documents related to a specific individual. It may also include health and care information. See also: CASPA

Care Passports – Although many of these are still in paper form, some are now digital and include tools to facilitate the use of multimedia to help people with complex needs e.g. learning disabilities, dementia, etc. to highlight their About Me information. See also: Reasonable Adjustments Flag.

Care/Support Planning Software – An electronic care/support plan is a digital version of a conventional paper care plan. This can be one that is created through simple software like Microsoft Word or by Software System Suppliers to support good and outstanding person-centred care.

Care and Support Planning Standard – See also:PRSB Digital Care and Support Planning Standard.

Care Workforce App – The app provides guidance, wellbeing support and advice on COVID-19. The app is available from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store and at the Care Workforce App website.

Cc (Carbon Copy) – Similar to the ‘To’ field in an email. Putting someone’s email address in this field will send them a copy of the email.

Character – One letter or symbol of text.

Chat Room – An online discussion group where you can chat (by typing) with other users in real time. Often of great support for individuals and/or their carers who have difficulty leaving their home.

Chip – A small computer component (also known as a microchip) which processes information.

Clinical SafetyClinical Safety consists of the actions to promote and ensure that effective clinical risk management is carried out by organisations that are responsible for deploying, developing and modifying health IT systems in relation to the Clinical Safety standards: DCB0129 and DCB0160. These standards are mandatory under the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

Clinical Informatics – In August 2020, the Faculty of Clinical Informatics published the Core Competency Framework (CCF) which describes the knowledge and skills-based competencies for ‘all Clinical Informaticians across health and social care. Clinical Informatics is defined as “the application of data and information technology to improve patient and population health, care and wellbeing outcomes and to advance treatment and the delivery of personalised, coordinated support from health and social care”.

Cloud Computing – The storing, processing and use of data on remotely located computers accessed over the internet, rather than being stored on local servers. Commonly used for backing up data and hosting applications. See also: Back Up Your Data.

Code – Coding is the use of computer programming languages to create software which gives computers instructions on what actions to perform. Computer code is what tells a computer how to operate.

Compression – The reduction of the size of a file. Compressed files take up less memory and can be downloaded or sent over the Internet more quickly.

Content – Any significant information on the internet – for example, an article/blog post, a video, an image, or an animation.

Cookies – Small bits of information about you that are saved in your browser, so the website knows who you are and what you have done on the site during your visit.

Copy and Paste – Copying files, folders, images, and text from one location and placing them (pasting) in another area.

Corrupted – A data file that is no longer usable, usually from infection of a virus. See also: Cyber Security Guidance.

Central Processing Unit (CPU)  – The CPU is responsible for performing calculations and tasks that make programs work. The “brain” of the computer.

Cracking – When software is modified to disable limitations placed on it by the manufacturer. See also: Rooting, Jailbreaking, and Cyber Security Guidance.

Critical Update – A software update that fixes a security flaw. See also: Cyber Security Guidance.

Cyber Attack – Malicious attempts to damage, disrupt or gain unauthorised access to computer systems, networks, or devices. See also: Cyber Security Guidance.

Cyber Crime – Any type of illegal activity that is undertaken (or relies heavily) on a computer. See also: Cyber Security Guidance.

Cyber Security – Its core function is to protect the devices we all use (smartphones, laptops, tablets and computers), and the services we access – both online and at work – from theft or damage. It is also about preventing unauthorised access to the vast amounts of personal information we store on these devices, and online. This is important for ensuring the quality and safety of care and support. See also: Cyber Security Guidance.

Cut and Paste – Removing files, folders, and selected text from one location and placing (pasting) in another location.



Data – Any information stored on a computer that is not the computer code. Data can be either structured or unstructured. Structured data is sometimes called records and can be organised and used for multiple purposes, whereas unstructured data is normally used for a single purpose and includes documents, pictures, videos or sound recordings. SNOMED CT, which provides the structured codes used in electronic health record systems, is an example of structured data.

Database – A system which allows the storing and organising of, normally structured, data so that it can be retrieved and used in a variety of different ways.

Data Breach – See also: Breach.

Data Collection for Pandemic Planning and Research – Care providers have been recording COVID-19 status information as part of their workflow within their care management software. The collection will show trends within care settings at a local and national level which will support forecasting of future waves of the pandemic and help plan for better future services. This data collection will run until 31 March 2022. See also: CASPA

Data Protection – See also: Data Protection Act 2018Data Security and Protection Toolkit and GDPR.

Data Protection Act 2018 – Brings the GDPR into UK law.

Data Protection Champion – A person who champions good data protection practice in individual services. You should have either a Data Protection Champion or (for larger organisations) a Data Protection Officer in your organisation.

Data Protection Impact Assessment – A requirement for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA)  is a process that helps organisations identify and minimise risks that result from data processing. DPIAs are usually undertaken when introducing new data processing processes, systems, or technologies.

Data Protection Officer – A Data Protection Officer is a specified role defined by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Data Protection Policy – A statement that sets out how your organisation protects personal data. It is a set of principles, rules and guidelines that informs how your organisation and staff will ensure ongoing compliance with data protection laws.

Data Quality Policy – This document sets out the agreed approach for managing information as an asset.

Data Security and Protection Toolkit – The Data Security and Protection Toolkit is an online self-assessment tool that allows health and social care organisations to provide assurance that they are undertaking good data security and that personal information is handled correctly. The aim is that all health and social care organisations move towards eventually reaching the Standards Met level. All adult social care providers in England who have not already registered with the toolkit should do so by 30th September 2020. See also: Update on Data Security and Protection.

Default – A setting which you have not changed. Accepting the defaults means leaving any settings as they are.

Desktop – A term used to describe the way different programs are laid out on your screen, which is similar to how you might layout documents and photos on a real desk.

Digital – A term used to describe a device using computer technology to replace older, analogue methods.

Digital Footprint – A ‘footprint’ of digital information that our online activity leaves behind.

Digital Literacy – The ability to appropriately use digital technology and communication tools to seek, find, understand, and evaluate information to make appropriate decisions in order to address or solve a problem, create, and communicate with others.

Disaster Recovery – A service that provides a full backup of information, data, and service so that a business can quickly resume after a cyber attack. See also: Cyber Security Guidance.

Domain Name – The domain name identifies a website: for example, www.digitalsocialcare.co.uk is a domain name.

Download – To transfer software or other files from the internet onto your computer or device.

Driver – A piece of software your computer uses to communicate with external devices (like printers and scanners).



E-MAR (Electronic Medication Administration Record) – Technology that enables care workers to ensure medication is administered reliably to a person they are caring for. Most electronic medication administration systems are cloud-based.

Electronic Health Record – A comprehensive medical record of the past and present physical and mental state of health of an individual in electronic form.

Electronic Medical Record (EMR) – Digital versions of the paper charts in clinician offices, clinics, and hospitals.

Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) – The Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) sends electronic prescriptions from GP surgeries to pharmacies.

Electronic Call Monitoring Software – Allows remote working staff, e.g. in domiciliary care, to clock in and clock out of visits using phones.

Electronic Yellow Card Scheme – All patients, care givers and healthcare professionals are being encouraged to submit reports of suspected side effects to medicines using the Yellow Card Scheme electronically rather than by paper, during the current outbreak. Further guidance can be found on the Digital Social Care website.

Email – Email is short for ‘electronic mail’. It is a way of sending messages (usually in the form of text, with other files in attachments) electronically via a network or the internet to a recipient.  See also: NHSmail , Be Careful With Your Email

Encryption – The process that protects electronic data by making it unreadable to everyone except authorized users with the key to decode it. This makes the information more secure.

E-Rostering – A term to describe the use of electronic rostering or rota scheduling systems for home care or other types of care.  The scope encompasses management information about shift patterns, sickness absence, annual leave, staff skill mix, appointment/task details and locations of both appointments and each member of staff at any one time.

Ethernet – A way of connecting computers on a network with a wired connection. It is a type of local area network (LAN).



Facility Takeover – An account or facility takeover can happen when a fraudster poses as a genuine customer, gains control of an account and then makes unauthorised transactions. Any account could be taken over by fraudsters, including bank, credit card, email, and other service providers. See also: Cyber Security Guidance.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) – A list of answers to commonly asked questions. Worth looking at if you have a problem with something before emailing or phoning support.

Fibre Broadband – Is a type of high-speed broadband. It uses fibre optic cables which are better at transferring data than standard copper cables.

File – A piece of information which can be opened by a computer program, for example, an image, a text document, or a video.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) – A way of transferring data files over the internet, normally between businesses.

Firewall – A barrier that acts as a security system to prevent unauthorised access to a computer or network over the internet.

FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) – Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR, pronounced “fire”) is a global industry standard framework describing data formats and elements (known as “resources”) and an application programming interface (API) for exchanging electronic health and care data between systems.

Folder – An area for storing files in. Folders can also contain other folders, which in turn can contain more folders (subfolders).

Freeware – Freeware is any copyrighted software, application or program that may be freely downloaded, installed, used, and shared. Make sure you trust Freeware completely before using it, as it can contain malicious code.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol) – A common method of transferring files via the internet from one host to another host.



Gateway – A point within a network that interconnects with other networks.

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) GDPR is the regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy for all individual citizens of the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA). It became law on the 25th May 2018. See also: Data Security and Protection Toolkit and Data Protection Legislation.

Graphics Card – A piece of hardware inside your computer which helps it to display high-quality images that you can see on your monitor.

GP Connect GP Connect is a service that allows GP practices and authorised clinical staff to share and view GP practice clinical information and data between IT systems.

Graphical User Interface (GUI) – A computer programme that enables a person to interact with different electronic devices using icons, pointing devices (such as a mouse), etc.

Grooming – The term grooming means making friends with someone online under false pretences in order to lure them into a difficult or dangerous situation.



Hacker – Someone with criminal intent who uses their computer to break into computers, systems, and networks. Someone who uses their computer to break into computers, systems, and networks. Often these people have criminal intent, but many software providers now use professional hackers, normally called penetration testing, to ensure their software is secure. See also: Cyber Security Guidance.

Hard Drive – A magnetic hardware device which stores data on a rotating disk. Hard Drives are inside your computer but there are also external hard drives as well.

Hardware – The physical parts of a computer, such as the case, monitor, keyboard, computer data storage, graphics card, sound card, speakers, and motherboard.

Headphones – Headphones are small speakers which you can use on-ear or in-ear in order to listen to sounds such as voice or music without other people hearing.

Health and Social Care Network (HSCN) – The Health and Social Care Network is a data network for health and care organisations which replaced the NHS network, N3.

Homepage – The web page your browser automatically displays when you start it up.

Hospital Passports – See Care Passports.

Hotspot – A public area covered by a Wi-Fi network that allows access to the internet, either free or for a fee. A hotspot can be generated using your smartphone mobile data (if included in your contract). There is a need to know your hotspot/network because it could be used to obtain information fraudulently. See also: Protect Mobile Devices and Tablets.

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) – A computer language devised to allow website creation. These websites can then be viewed by anyone else connected to the Internet using web browser software.

Hyperlink – See Links.



Identity Theft – The crime of impersonating someone by using their private information for financial gain.

Infect/Infection – When a computer is ‘infected’ with a virus it means that malicious code has installed itself on your computer and is adversely affecting the way your computer works. See also: Have Up-to-Date Antivirus Software.

Informatics – Informatics harnesses the potential of digital technology to transform data and information into knowledge that people use every day.

Information Governance – Information governance is the overall strategy for information/data. It provides a framework to bring together all the rules, whether legal or simply best practice, that apply to the handling of information. See also: Data Security and Protection Toolkit, GDPR and Protecting Information.

Install/Installation – Transferring or downloading software onto your computer and setting it up so that it can work properly.

Instant Messaging (IM) – Sending messages between people ‘instantly’ using a program on a computer or a website – a lot like very fast text messaging.

Integrated Care and Support – There is no single definition of integrated care and services can be joined up and coordinated in different ways, for example, across hospital and community-based care, physical and mental health care, and social care. However, a person-centred or even a person led emphasis, see About Me, can help break down traditional barriers to integrated care. Digital initiatives can support this by facilitating better communication for all those involved, including the individual and, where applicable, their carer(s). See also: Interoperability.

Internet – A global network of interconnected computers and mobile devices, which can communicate with each other using a set of agreed rules. NHSX and NHS Digital have worked with telecommunications companies to publish a series of offers and guidance to help care homes get connected to the internet or to upgrade their existing internet connectivity during the COVID-19 crisis. Complimentary guidance has also been published by NHS Digital. For more information: email: accesslogistics.hub@nhs.net or see information about this on the Digital Social Care website.

Internet Browser – A browser is a programme used to search the internet. Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Apple Safari, and Firefox are some examples of popular internet browsers.

Internet First – The policy for health and care indicates that new services should be made available on the internet, secured appropriately using the best available standards-based approaches. Existing services should also be updated at the earliest opportunity.

Internet of Things – The ability of everyday objects (rather than computers and devices) to connect to the Internet. Examples include kettles, fridges, televisions, and wearables such as smartwatches and fitness trackers.

Internet Service Provider (ISP) – An internet service provider (ISP) is a company that provides access to the Internet.

Interoperability – The ability of computer systems or software to exchange and make use of information. To improve citizen care and support there is a need for more effective information sharing between care settings, organisations, and geographies, as well as between professionals and citizens. This is reliant on the ability of IT systems across health and social care to communicate with each other, hence the need for interoperability.

Intranet – A private network within an organisation where people can share information without it being accessed by the rest of the internet.

Internet Service Provider (ISP) – An Internet Service Provider is a company which provides access to an internet connection.

IP Address (Internet Protocol Address) – A unique string of numbers that identifies each device connected to the internet.

iOS – The operating system used by Apple for iPhones, iPads, etc. MacOS is the operating system designed for Apple computers (Macs).

IT (Information Technology) – Incorporates just about everything when using technology to manage information on PCs or mobile devices.



Jailbreak – Something which people can do to their phones (often, but not always, the iPhone iOS) which “unlocks” the phone so that it can do things which the manufacturer does not permit the phone to do. Jailbreaking is closely related to “rooting” and “cracking”.

JavaScript – A programming language commonly used in web development to add dynamic and interactive elements to websites.

JPEG (Joint Picture Experts Group) – A standard type of compressed graphics file. This format is most often used for photographs.

Junk Email – Unsolicited or unwanted email. Also known as junk mail. Sometimes legitimate emails can end up in your junk folder. See also: Be Careful With Your Email.



Keyboard – A computer keyboard is hardware which is used to input text, characters, and other commands into a computer or similar device.

Keyboard Shortcuts – A way of quickly performing an action by pressing a combination of keys on your keyboard at the same time.



Laptop – A portable PC. Also called a notebook.

Local Area Network (LAN) – A computer network that spans a relatively small geographical area, usually based in a home or office building.

Legacy Systems -A term used for existing IT systems and software. These are often outdated computer systems which are still in use.

Link – A piece of text, image, or another item on a website which, when clicked on, takes you to a different web page. Links will often appear underlined Digital Social Care when you move the mouse over them. Sometimes known as a Hyperlink.

Local Health and Care Record Exemplars (LHCRE‘s) – The Local Health and Care Record Exemplar Programme is intended to provide reference sites for sharing data to support direct care and support regional population health management and the development of Integrated Care Systems. See also: Interoperability.



Machine Learning – The development of computer modelling and algorithms that uses data and learns from it to produce predictive models. See also: Artificial Intelligence and Predictive Analytics.

Machine Readable – A file format structured so that software applications can easily identify, recognise, and extract specific data.

Macro – A small program that can automate tasks in applications such as word documents and spreadsheets which attackers can use to gain access to or harm a system. See also: Cyber Security Guidance.

Mailing list – Multiple email addresses collected with the intention of sending out newsletters or group emails.

Malware – Malware is short for ‘malicious software’. A term that includes viruses, trojans, worms or any code or content that could have an adverse impact on organisations or individuals. See also: Install the Latest Software Updates and Have Up-to-Date Antivirus Software.

Medication Administration Record – See also: eMAR.

Memory – Computer memory is any physical device capable of storing information temporarily, like RAM (random access memory), or permanently, like ROM (read-only memory).

Memory Stick – A removable memory device, normally connected to a computer via USB. There are security factors to information system security when using these devises. These include data leakage owing to their small size and system compromise through infections from computer viruses, malware, and spyware. See also: Cyber Security Guidance.

Messaging Apps – Messaging apps, such as WhatsApp, will let you send messages, share photos, and make video or voice calls.

Message Exchange for Social Care and Health (MESH) – The Message Exchange for Social Care and Health is a system to system messaging service used across health and social care, allowing health and care organisations to communicate securely. It works on the Spine infrastructure.

Metadata – Information about a data item, such as a file or web page, hidden inside it to help search engines find it or to provide other details. It often includes a description of the page which will be picked up by search engines.

Metro Area Networks (MAN) – A large computer network that interconnects users with computer resources in a geographic region of the size of a metropolitan The geographical area of the MAN, typically a city, is larger than Local Area Network (LAN), but smaller than Wide Area Network (WAN).

Microphone – Sometimes called a mic, a microphone is a device that allows computer users to input audio into their computers by converting sound waves into an electrical signal.

Mobile Device – Portable technology that can access the internet. This includes mobile phones, tablets and laptops. See also: Mobile Working.

Mobile Working – Working on the move using mobile devices. See also: Protect Mobile Devices and Tablets.

Monitor – A computer monitor displays information in pictorial form. This enables us to interact with a computer when we use a touchscreen and/or a keyboard and mouse.

Motherboard – The main circuit board in a computer containing the principal components of a computer or other devices.

Mouse – A computer mouse is a small handheld device which allows us to control a cursor to move and select text, icons, files, and folders on a computer.

Multimedia – The combination of different types of media such as audio, video, and text.



National Record Locator – The National Record Locator allows authorised health and care professionals, providers and their suppliers to securely locate and identify individual records elsewhere in the system.

Network – A way of linking several computers together so that people can share resources such as documents and printers, often via a server. The Internet is an example of a very large network.

NHS App – The NHS App provides a secure way for people to access a range of NHS services on their smartphone or tablet. See also: Personal Health Records.

NHS App Library – Guidance for app developers, commissioners and assessors to get trusted digital tools assessed and published on the NHS App Library.

NHS Digital Social Care Programme – The NHS Digital Social Care Programme incorporates various strands of work. This included procuring Digital Social Care which has guidance written by care providers for care providers in relation to information guidance, cyber security and the Data Security and Protection Toolkit. The Social Care Digital Innovation Programme provides funding to support innovative uses of digital technology in the design and delivery of adult social care. The implementation stage of the Digital Social Care Pathfinders is now building on all this work and exploring new areas.

NHS Identity (ID) NHS Identity has the capability to provide digital identity and access management services to the national health and social care workers. NHS Identity is available over the internet and is available on a range of devices including mobiles and tablets. An example of its use is with mobile Summary Care Records (SCR).

NHS Login NHS Login provides individuals with a simple, secure and re-usable way to access multiple digital health and care services e.g. NHS App. It also is designed for providers of digital health and care services who offer a health or social care related app or website.

NHS Long Term Plan – The NHS Long Term Plan included sections about the importance of technology; setting out the priorities that will support digital transformation to enhance the care of citizens such as the Enhanced Health in Care Homes Framework.

NHSmail NHSmail is a secure email service approved for sharing sensitive information (“normal” internet email is not considered secure). Microsoft Teams is currently part of the NHSmail package NHSmail is free to all adult social care providers.

There is a temporary waiver (let) in place on the requirement to complete the Entry Level of the Data Security and Protection Toolkit in order to access NHSmail or use video conferencing using Microsoft Teams. All social care providers using NHSMail ‘must register with the toolkit (i.e. sign up and provide contact details) by 30th September 2020. There is already Quick Access to NHSmail guidance to assist all adult social care providers to obtain free access to NHSmail/Microsoft Teams. See also: Secure email Standard (DCB1596) and Be Careful with Your Email.

NHS Number – The NHS Number is a unique identifier for each individual which helps healthcare staff and service providers match individuals to their health records. An NHS Number is a 10-digit number, like 485 777 3456.

NHS UK – The NHS UK website provides comprehensive health and care information with thousands of articles, videos and tools to help the public make the best choices for their wellbeing.



ODS Code – a unique identifier for health, social care and affiliated organisations developed by NHS Digital’s Organisation Data Service. See also: How to Find Your ODS Code.

Online – If a computer is online, it is currently connected to a network or to the Internet. Online also refers to resources and services available on the Internet. e.g. this is an online glossary.

Open Source – A term generally used to describe computer software that promotes free access to its design and makes free to share, on a non-commercial basis.  

Operating System – The software on a computer or mobile device which enables all the different parts to work together e.g. Windows, Android, iOS, etc.



Passwords – A secret combination of letters and numbers (and sometimes other characters) which protects personal information. Use a strong, separate password for your email and other important accounts. See also: Use Strong Passwords.

Patch – A software update to improve security and/or enhance functionality. See also: Install the Latest Software Updates.

PDF (Portable Document Format) – PDFs are a way of formatting document for capturing and sending electronic information, so it can be viewed in exactly the intended format the creator intended.

Penetration Testing – Legally hacking into a computer system or website with the approval of the owner, to reveal vulnerabilities and finding opportunities for improving its security.

Personal Demographics Service (PDS) The Personal Demographics Service (PDS) is the national electronic database of NHS patient details such as name, address, date of birth and NHS Number.

Personal Health Records (PHR) Personal Health Records are digital tools that allow individuals to view records held by health and care services and write in their own health and wellbeing information. See also: NHS App.

Phishing – Untargeted, mass emails sent to many people to trick them into disclosing private information (such as usernames, passwords, or bank details) or encouraging them to visit a fake website. See also: Be Careful with Your Email, Spear Phishing and Spoofing.

PIN (Personal Identification Number) – A numerical code used in many electronic financial transactions.

Pixel – A pixel refers to a single point in on your screen. They consist of small little dots which make up the images on computer displays. The screen is divided up into a mix of thousands or even millions of pixels.

Platform – Hardware (the device you are using) and software (the operating system you are using) on which applications can run.

Predictive Analytics Predictive analytics is the process of learning from historical data in order to predict future activity, behaviour and trends which can support the best decisions to be made. See also: Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

Pop-up – An extra browser window that appears – these can be good (like prompts from your banking website telling you to log off) or bad (adverts and spam).

Portal – A page on the internet full of links to and information about other web pages, with little content of its own.

Printer – Electronic device that accepts text or images from a computer and transfers them to a paper or film. It can be connected directly to the computer by a cable or indirectly via a wireless or Bluetooth network. In general, inkjet printers can handle a wide range of tasks (such as documents and colour images) while laser printers excel when printing black desk documents.

Profile – A description that may include your personal details and is used to identify you on a social networking website. Profiles may normally be configured to be public or private.

Processor – Responsible for performing calculations and tasks that make programs work. The faster the processor is, the faster the computer.

Program – A software program allows your computer to perform certain actions – like creating a text document, viewing, and editing an image, or watching a video.

Programming Language – Software is all written in a programming language of one sort or another. There are different programming languages suitable for different elements of an application.

Protocol – The official system of rules for transmitting data between electronic devices, such as computers.

Proxy Access – Allows parents, family members, carers, care home staff, etc. to have access to an individual’s online services accounts, in order to book appointments, request repeat medication and, when appropriates, view their medical record.



QWERTY (keyboard) – A standard keyboard, so named because the main letters across the top happen to spell out ‘QWERTY’.



RAM (Random Access Memory) – Often referred to as a computer’s memory that allows data to be stored and retrieved on a computer or mobile device.

Ransomware – Malicious software run by hackers that lock files on your computer and them demand payment to release them. See also: Install the Latest Software Updates and Have Up-to-Date Antivirus Software.

Read-Only – This type of file cannot be modified, edited, or deleted.

Reasonable Adjustments Flag – The Reasonable Adjustments Flag is a national record which indicates that reasonable adjustments are required for a person with learning disabilities, dementia, etc. It includes the About Me information and the key adjustments that should be considered. The flag has been piloted in the Summary Care Records (SCR) and a FHIR software interface will soon be available for systems to integrate with the flag, enabling health and care professionals to record, share and view individual’s reasonable adjustments.

Reboot – Restarting the computer, either by shutting it down properly and restarting it (a soft reboot), or just switching it off and on again at the power supply (a hard reboot). This should only be used as a last resort).

Recycle Bin – A place files go to before being permanently deleted so that if you have second thoughts you can ‘undelete’ them.

Refresh – To force a web page to load again, so that you can see if it has been updated. Also, useful if the page has frozen or is not working properly.

Remote Attack – When your computer is attacked through the internet by a virus or hacker working on a different computer. See also: Cyber Security Guidance.

Remote Monitoring – Remote monitoring is the process of using technology to monitor individuals in non-clinical environments, such as in the home, assisted living or care home settings. It includes sensors and wearable devices.

Resolution – The number of distinct pixels that are displayed on a computer monitor. The higher the resolution, the more detailed an image appears.

Robotics Robotics is a broad field covering different aspects of the creation and use of robots. Robotics can provide physical, social, and cognitive assistance. There is a wide range of robotic technologies used from automated vacuum cleaners to robots resembling humans or animals. Robots can operate with varying levels of autonomy and may make use of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies.

Role-Based Access (RBAC) – Role-based access control (RBAC) restricts access to a systems or network based on a person’s role within an organization The roles in RBAC refer to the levels of access that employees have to the systems or network.

Rooting – The process of making changes to an Android operating system so that the user has administrator privileges. This is related to “cracking” and “jailbreaking”.

Rostering – See also: e-Rostering.

Router – A device that routes network or internet traffic. Typically found in home/small office environments with a Wi-Fi capability.



Sandbox – A trial environment where you can test something out online without worrying about breaking anything.

Scanner – A scanner is an electronic device that can be used for copying a picture or document onto a computer and viewed or modified using software applications. Sometimes attached to a printer.

Search Engine – A search engine is a website through which users can search internet content.  Google Chrome and Microsoft Bing are examples of popular search engines.

Secure email – Emails sent to health and social care organisations must meet the secure email standard (DCB1596) so that everyone can be sure that sensitive and confidential information is kept secure. See also: NHSmail and Be Careful with Your Email.

Server – A computer designed to process requests and deliver data to other computers over a local network or the internet.

Smartphone – A mobile phone which, as well as making calls and sending texts, can connect to the internet, send emails, and do several other functions like a computer. See also: Protect Mobile Devices and Tablets.

SNOMED CT SNOMED CT is used in electronic health record systems to provide the structured clinical language that facilitates electronic communication in clear and unambiguous terms, and can be used to code, retrieve, and analyse clinical data. It is not just used in the UK but worldwide.

Social Network – An online community to connect with friends, family, colleagues, and other people who share your interests. Examples include Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Software – The programs that run on a computer. Computer software, or simply, software, is a collection of instructions that tell the computer how to work. This contrasts with physical hardware, from which the system is built and performs the work. Software Includes apps and operating systems such as Windows, etc. See also: Install the Latest Software Updates.

Sound Card – A sound card, sometimes known as an audio card, can be slotted into a computer to allow the use of audio components for multimedia applications.

Source CodeCode viewed in its most basic format (text) without being processed by your computer or browser.

Spam – An email that you did not request, often sent to many users. Also known as junk mail/email. See also: Be Careful with Your Email.

Speaker – A computer speaker is a hardware device that connects to a computer to generate sound. The signal used to produce the sound is created by the computer’s sound card.

Spear Phishing – Like phishing, except targets a specific user. See also: Be Careful with Your Email.

Speech Recognition – Sometimes referred to as “automatic speech recognition” or “speech to text”. This is when a computer program converts someone talking into written text. See also: Voice Recognition.

Spine – The Spine is the digital central point for key online services allowing the exchange of information across local and national health and care systems. The Personal Demographics Service (PDS)  is part of the Spine.

Spoofing – Attempting to get someone to give you their private data over the internet/email by posing as a reputable company, commonly a bank or financial institution. Also known as phishing. See also: Cyber Security Guidance.

Spyware – An unwanted program that runs on your computer, which can make it slow and unreliable or even make you a target for online criminals. See also: Have Up-to-Date Antivirus Software.

Standards – There are many different types of standards, including technical standards and professional standards. An example of technical standards is FHIR such as the  Assessment, Discharge and Withdrawal Notices Standard. The Professional Records Standards Body (PRSB) have many examples of professional standards that relate to the requirements of citizens and those who work in health and social care.

Streaming – When a sound or video file is played at almost the same time it is being sent from a website. In this way you do not have to wait for a clip to download, you just watch it as it downloads.

Summary Care Records (SCR) Summary Care Records (SCR) are electronic records, created from GP medical records. They can be seen and used by authorised staff in other areas of the health and care system involved in the person’s direct care. Content includes medications, allergies, and adverse reactions. Many SCR’s now incorporate Additional Information. Mobile SCR’s are increasingly being used and are being piloted in Care Homes.

Supply Chain – A network consisting of an organisation and its suppliers to produce and distribute a specific product or service to the customer. See also: Manage Your Suppliers.

Surveillance Technology – Surveillance Technology includes CCTV, cameras, and microphones. There are guidelines on Using Surveillance in your Care Services on the Care Quality Commission website.



Tab – Separate windows within your browser which mean you can look at different pages on the internet without opening up whole new versions of your browser.

Tablet – A larger handheld device with a touchscreen which can connect to the internet and be used as a portable computer. See also: Protect Mobile Devices and Tablets.

Tabnapping – Tabnapping targets people who keep multiple tabs open in their browser, often for long periods of time. The fraudsters then use JavaScript to change the contents and label of an open, but not active, tab to resemble the log-in screen of a bank, email provider or online shopping store. See also:  Cyber Security Guidance.

Technology Enabled Care Services Technology Enabled Care Services is a name for telehealth, telecare, assistive technology, or telemedicine.

Telecare Telecare services offer remote care of frail and physically less able people, providing the reassurance needed to allow them to remain living in their own homes. Typically, a monitoring service is provided which will escalate alarm activations to a named responder or, if appropriate, the emergency services. See also: Assisted Living Technology (ALT).

Teleconference – See also: Video Conference.

Telehealth Telehealth is the use of electronic sensors or equipment that monitor people’s health in their own home/communities. So, for example equipment to monitor vital signs such as blood pressure, blood oxygen levels or weight. These measures are then automatically transmitted to a clinician who can observe health status without the person leaving their home environment. The clinician monitors daily readings to look for trends that could indicate deterioration in condition.

Text Messaging – Also known as SMS – a way of sending short text messages from one mobile phone to another through a traditional mobile phone network.

Toolbar – Menu options and buttons which you will find across the top of many software programs.

Touchscreen – A computer screen which is touch-sensitive, used to control tablet computers and most smartphones.

Traffic – The number of visitors to a website – heavy traffic means lots of visitors.

Trojan – A type of malware or virus disguised as legitimate software, that is used to hack into the victim’s computer. See also: Install the Latest Software Updates and Have Up-to-Date Antivirus Software.

Troubleshoot – An approach to problem-solving that is used to find and correct issues with computers and software systems.

Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) – This involves a second step after entering your password e.g. providing a fingerprint, using Eye/Face identification, answering a security question, or entering a unique code sent to your device. Also known as multi-factor authentication or 2-Factor authentication. See also: Use Strong Passwords.



Uninstall – Removing a program or application from your system.

Unzip – To uncompress a file which has previously been ‘zipped up’ or compressed in order to make it smaller.

Upload – To transfer information (files) from a PC to a network or the internet.

URL (Unique Resource Locator) -A URL or web address is the characters you type into a browser to access a particular website or other resources on the Internet, e.g https://www.digitalsocialcare.co.uk/

Usability – How easy it is for someone to use a website in its intended manner.

USB (Universal Serial Bus) – USB is a standard type of physical connection used for connecting equipment to your computer via a cable.

USB port – The place on your computer where you can plug in a USB cable.

Use Case – A use case is used to identify, clarify, and organise system requirements. The use case is made up of a set of possible sequences of interactions between systems and users in a particular environment and related to a particular goal.

User Interface – The part of a software application or website that users see and interact with, which takes account of the visual design and the structure of the program.

Username – An identifying name used to log in to services. This can be chosen yourself or assigned. It does not need to be your own name.



Video Conferencing – Video conferencing is a visual communication session between two or more users regardless of their location, featuring audio and video content transmission in real-time. An example is Microsoft Teams which is now part of the NHSmail package.

Viral – Information which has spread through the internet via ‘word of mouth’. Normally this means it has reached many hundreds of thousands or millions of people exceptionally quickly.

Virtual Reality Virtual reality is the term used to describe a three-dimensional, computer-generated environment which can be explored and interacted with by a person who can manipulate objects or perform a series of actions.

Virus – A computer program which can copy itself and spread from one computer to another, adversely affecting the way that the computer operates. This includes slowing your computer down, displaying unwanted pop-up messages and even deleting files. See also: Have Up-to-Date Antivirus Software.

VPN (Virtual Private Network) – A system where people can securely access work intranets and private networks over the internet, for example in an organisation with offices in multiple locations. VPN’s can also be used to hide your computer’s IP address to get around some websites’ geo-restrictions.

Voice Recognition – Voice recognition is the ability of a machine or program to receive and interpret dictation or to understand and carry outspoken commands. Voice recognition has gained prominence and use with the rise of Artificial intelligence and intelligent assistants, such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and Microsoft’s Cortana.



Wearables – Wearable technology or wearables consists of electronic devices that can be incorporated into clothing or worn on the body as implants or accessories which can often send and receive data via the Internet.

WebApp (Web Application) – A software program that is able to be used accessed over the World Wide Web using an Internet Browser but that is functional and contains data that is entered by the person using the WebApp. Most modern software is available primarily as a WebApp. The advantages of a WebApp are accessibility from anywhere on the Internet; no need to install software; no need for software updates; easy of deploying new versions by the software provider; and computing system independence. Examples of WebApps include virtually all systems provided by Google, many by Microsoft and Apple, but also many on-line booking systems and price comparison sites.

Web Browser – Software which allows you to surf the internet – you are probably using a browser right now.

Webcam – A webcam is a video camera that feeds or streams an image or video in real-time to or through a computer to a computer network, such as the Internet

Webinar – When a group of people use video technology to meet online.

Web Page – Any page on the internet is a web page.

Website – A page or group of pages on the World Wide Web. These can be static information or can be interactive, at which point they are often called a WebApp.

Whaling – A specific type of spear phishing that targets someone high up in an organisation. For example, a board member or an employee with access to some particularly tempting assets. See also: Be Careful with Your Email.

Wide Area Network (WAN) – A network that exists over a large-scale area. The purpose is to connect different smaller networks, such as LAN and metro area networks.

Wi-Fi – A wireless network which enables computers and mobile devices to connect over a wireless signal to the internet without using wires or cables. See also: Protect Mobile Devices and Tablets.

Wireless Router – See also: Router

World Wide Web (“WWW” or “The Web”) – The part of the Internet that contains websites and webpages. Websites are composed of pages linked by hypertext links. They are written in HTML. The software to see the World Wide Web is called a web browser.

Worm – A type of virus which can spread itself across networks needing no human intervention to do so.

WWW – See also: World Wide Web



XML (Extensible Markup Language) – A type of programming language to encode documents so that they are readable by both people and machines.





Zip File – To compress a file to make it smaller takes up less disk space. It is useful for backing up files and reducing the size of data transferred over the Internet.



1080p – A common type of high definition video. Refers to 1920×1080 pixels

4G/5G – Technologies that deliver faster mobile Broadband. 

4k – Video with a resolution of at least 3840×2160 pixels.


Helpful Organisations

Action FraudAction Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime. You can report it and/or phone 0300 123 204 if you have been scammed, defrauded or experienced cybercrime.

ADASS – The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) is a charity representing directors of adult social services in England. Membership is drawn from serving directors of adult social care employed by the 152 local authorities in England with social care responsibilities.

Care Provider Alliance The Care Provider Alliance (CPA) brings together ten main national associations which represent independent and voluntary adult social care providers in England.  It has been supporting a number of initiatives, producing New Ways of Working in Adult Social Care Services which includes information about care provider digital initiatives.

Care Quality Commission – The Care Quality Commission is known for its Key Lines of Enquiry but also has some guidelines about the use of technology in care.

CASPA The Care Software Providers Association (CASPA)  is an independent association representing the views and interests of social care software providers. CASPA has been established in the UK as an independent, not for profit, member-driven association. Membership is available to companies involved in the provision of software to the care sector. See Manage Your Suppliers.

Digital Social Care Digital Social Care is a website and support service run by care providers for care providers. It provides advice, guidance, and support to the sector on technology and data. It was procured by the NHS Digital Social Care Programme. A Digital Social Care Helpline has been set up during Covid-19. If you would like to speak to a team member about the use of technology, you can contact: 0208 133 3430 (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm) or help@digitalsocialcare.co.uk.

Faculty of Clinical Informatics – The Faculty of Clinical Informatics has been established as the multi-disciplinary professional body for all health and social care qualified individuals working as informaticians across the UK.  This includes Social Workers, Nurses, Midwives, Allied Health Professionals, Paramedics, Dentists, Doctors, Pharmacists, etc.

Get Safe Online – The Get Safe Online website provides practical advice on how to protect yourself and your business. There is also a Jargon Buster.

Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) – The Information Commissioner’s Office is the UK’s independent body set up to uphold information rights. They are the regulator for data protection in the UK. All care providers must register with the ICO.

INTEROPen INTEROPen is a collaboration of individuals, industry, standards organisations, and providers, who have agreed to work together to accelerate the development of open standards for interoperability in the health and social care sector.

Local Government Association – The Local Government Association is involved in a number of digital initiatives including the Social Care Digital Innovation Programme which is run in partnership with the NHS Digital Social Care Programme.

National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – The NCSC site is the authority on cyber security and has some useful advice and resources.

NHS Digital NHS Digital is the national information and technology provider of information, data and IT systems to the health and social care system. Its systems and services include the Data Security and Protection Toolkit, NHSmail and the Social Care Programme.

NHS England NHS England leads the National Health Service (NHS) in England. See NHS Long Term Plan.

NHSX NHSX brings teams from the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England, and NHS Improvement together into one unit to ‘drive digital transformation and lead policy, implementation and change’.

Professional Records Standards Body (PRSB) – The Professional Records Standards Body (PRSB) develops and helps to implement standards for the structure and content of health and social care records. These include the Core Information Standard for Local Health and Care Records and the Digital Care and Support Planning Standard.

SASIG – The Security Awareness Special Interest Group (SASIG) is a subscription-free cyber security networking forum. Membership includes hundreds of organisations from all sectors; public and private.

Skills for Care – Skills for Care is an independent charity which aims to create a well-led, skilled, and valued adult social care workforce in England. This includes practical tools such as information about the digital skills required for the workplace.

Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) is an independent improvement agency, with a database of good practice, eLearning tools and resources which also cover digital technology.

Socitm Socitm is a network for information technology professionals who are involved in the delivery of public services.

TechUK TechUK is a network for Digital companies in the UK and has a health and social care group.