Public services

Impact of digitalisation on social services

02 April 2020
Executive summary in 22 languages


Key findings

  • Evidence on the impact of digitalisation on social services is limited, in part because many of these technologies are still emerging, but there is some evidence that the automation or reduction of administrative processes allows staff to increase their productivity and to dedicate more time to care-related tasks.
  • Digital technologies can achieve savings by reducing the need for more costly and intensive care, detecting fraud more effectively and ensuring that scarce resources are allocated more efficiently (for example, blockchain technology can help in the delivery and management of benefits).
  • Digital technologies can contribute to an increased sense of safety for users and have enabled older people to continue living in their own homes for longer.
  • Care provided with the aid of robots, telepresence and wearable devices can reduce the risk of contagion and ensure the continuity of care in case of quarantine, lockdown and/or social distancing.
  • Training of staff and users in the use of digital technologies is important, particularly in cases where care cannot be provided face to face or when there are sudden spikes in demand for health and social care services.


To support the European Commission’s objective of ensuring Europe is fit for the digital age, this report examines the use of digital technologies in social services and the policies that promote digital transformation. The report explores some of the main issues involved in implementing digitalisation strategies and using digital technologies in social services, as well as some of the measures that have been put in place to overcome barriers. The overall aim is to work towards closing the knowledge gap regarding the opportunities and risks associated with technological change in this area. 

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    Impact of digitalisation on social services

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    Cite this publication as: 
    Eurofound (2020), Impact of digitalisation on social services, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg.
  • Executive summary

    Reference No: 
    Catalogue info

    Impact of digitalisation on social services


    This report examines the use of digital technologies in social services and the policies that promote digital transformation. The use of digital technologies in social services in Europe has not been studied to the same extent as its use in healthcare. While there are some studies on this topic, many of them focus on the use of information and communications technology (ICT) rather than more advanced types of digital technologies. The digital technologies analysed in this report are based on previous Eurofound research, which classified them into the following three clusters: automation of work: advanced robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning; digitisation of processes: Internet of Things, virtual reality/augmented reality and telepresence; coordination by platforms.

    Available in 22 languages for download

  • Tables and graphs

    Figure 1: Digitalisation in the 2018 European Semester

Research carried out prior to the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union on 31 January 2020, and published subsequently, may include data relating to the 28 EU Member States. Following this date, research only takes into account the 27 EU Member States (EU28 minus the UK), unless specified otherwise.

This report presents the results of research conducted prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Europe in February 2020. For this reason, the results do not take account of the outbreak.

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