Health and Social Care

Digital dividend S

Technology is at the heart of Scotland’s strategy to improve health and social care


cotland has a new digital health and social care strategy that sets out how technology can support person-centred care and sustain and improve services for the future.

Announced earlier this year by the

then Cabinet Secretary Shona Robison at FutureScot’s Health and Social Care Digital Leaders’ Summit, it highlights progress and challenges to date, and sets out to maximise the opportunities of digital technology to help improve the health and wellbeing outcomes for people in Scotland. Te new strategy has been developed over

the past year, and its aims and priorities have been informed by widespread engagement with members of the public and health and social care front-line staff. An independent panel of world-leading

UK and international experts was also estab- lished to make recommendations to inform the development of the strategy and was chaired by the acclaimed Professor David Bates of Harvard School of Public Health. Te strategy has also been informed by the

evidence presented to the Scottish Parlia- ment’s Health and Sport Committee, which reported earlier this year on technology and innovation in health and social care. Chair of the external expert panel, Profes-

sor David Bates MD MSc, Professor of Medi- cine at Harvard Business School, welcomed the new strategy. “Scotland is already an international leader in integrating health and social care services and is well positioned to seize the opportunities offered by digital. “It has already seen a number of key

successes in specific areas. Our panel was impressed by the commitment of those tasked with developing and improving Scotland’s health and care services through the use of technology. “Te challenge now will be to build on

these specific areas and ensure that digital technology and data science become mainstream in health and social care to reshape equip services for the future and further empower those using the services. “Te new digital health and care strategy

for Scotland is a key element in achieving that success, setting out the key priorities and objectives for this shared endeavour. I urge all those with an interest in positioning Scotland as a digital leader to get involved.” Professor Andrew Morris, Professor of Medi-

cine, Director of the Usher Institute of Popula- tion Health Sciences and Informatics, and Vice Principal Data Science, University of Edin- burgh, co-chaired the strategic oversight group

24 | NHS70 | SUMMER 2018

“Digital means we will be able to tailor health and care systems to deliver greater value to the public, with scrutiny and governance ensuring that any research

we do is ethical and to the public good” Professor Andrew Morris

that developed the strategy and its priorities. “Scotland is already a world leader, for ex-

ample, in diabetes care where analysing ano- nymised data has helped reduce blindness, heart disease and amputations,” he said. “Digital technology with appropriate

privacy structures in place can enable us to develop new treatments, and services that are personalised, precise, participatory, and preventative. Digital means we will be able to tailor health and care systems to deliver greater value to the public, with scrutiny and governance ensuring that any research we do is ethical and to the public good.” A dedicated website (http://www. explains the strategy’s approach, supported by case study examples, blogs and video, and stakeholders are asked to follow the Twitter feed @ DigiCare4Scot for further information and to keep up to date with developments.

Te strategy sets out six key areas that will be prioritised in order to achieve the

intended benefits of digital technology: l National direction – establishing a joint decision-making board from national and local government and the NHS, supported and advised by industry, academia and the third sector to make national decisions for investment, priorities and policy, and achieve

greater consistency, clarity and accountability. l Information governance, assurance and cyber security – ensuring appropriate

safeguards are in place for the management of data and ensuring consistency in decision-making about sharing data and understanding about data protection

requirements. l Service transformation – a clear, national approach to service redesign and the scaled up adoption of successful models such as home and mobile health and care

monitoring. l Workforce capability – recognition that leadership and workforce development in digital skills and capability underpin successful uptake and use of digital technology, with the establishment of a joint approach between NHS Education for Scotland, the Local Government Digital Office (working with COSLA and Integrated Joint Boards) and

the Scottish Social Services Council. l National digital platform – commitment to the interoperability of systems by developing a national Health and Social Care services digital platform through which real-time data and information from health and care records is available to those who need it, when they need

it, wherever they are, in a secure and safe way. l Transition process – a recognition of the need to improve and upgrade existing systems to contribute to future developments, with a joint approach required between NHS National Services Scotland and the Local Government Digital Office to ensure that existing systems continue to work effectively. n

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