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HEALTH Health board’s 17 digital initiatives


Video consultations and remote access assist NHS Forth Valley through Covid


BY KEVIN O’SULLIVAN


A Scottish health board has high- lighted the 17 digital initiatives that have helped it respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. NHS Forth Valley identified the


tech solutions in a board paper outlining its “system wide” one year remobilisation plan following a request from government. As part of the response, the


plan seeks to “retain and build on the many positive transformative changes inspired by staff who have come together to work differently during this pandemic”. Te plan overall is focused on


the safe resumption of many non- urgent health services that were curtailed as a result of the Covid-19 crisis and considers its long-term consequences.


However it describes digital and


e-health measures as a “major enabler” over the period of the pandemic, which have included the accelerated rollout of the video consultation platform Near Me across all main care settings and GP practices. Other initiatives include a full


Microsoft Teams rollout to all staff in NHS Forth Valley to support communications; increased wi-fi access for key staff at Forth Valley Royal Hospital; the doubling of remote access arrangements of staff and the procurement of additional laptops and mobile devices to sup- port more agile and home working. Te board has also committed to


producing an innovation plan that addresses some of the ongoing chal- lenges faced by the health system, such as inequalities exacerbated by Covid. Cathie Cowan, NHS Forth Valley’s


chief executive, said the board’s ambitions are to support service recovery, innovation and improve- ment over the next three years, which includes the “rapid delivery of essential actions and IT solu- tions” and “embeds innovations and


NHS Forth Valley is embarking on a tech-driven re-mobilisation plan Michael Gillen, Falkirk Herald


digital approaches into our every- day practice and business”. She said the plans, approved by


the NHS board at the beginning of June, form part of a wider vision to reduce waiting times and deliver better outcomes for patients. l


NHS recovery demands bold thinking BY ALISON CULPAN


After an election campaign where restart and recovery took centre stage, it’s now up to the Scottish Government to deliver on pledges made during the campaign trail. For all the differences between Scotland’s main political parties, the need to ensure the NHS gets back to full capacity unites them all. For patients and the NHS, this


means delivering on the promise to not only restart care and clini- cal trials but to accelerate access to treatment for conditions like cancer. For the pharmaceutical industry we believe that the Scottish Govern- ment has a unique opportunity to re-shape care by placing a new focus on innovation and collaboration. Back in 2016, Scotland’s then


Chief Medical Officer, Dr Catherine Calderwood bemoaned that it takes a whole generation to embed in- novation within the health service. Given the need for the NHS to find an extra 10% capacity, it must work smarter, not harder. Tis is especially true as Covid-19 has sapped energy from clinicians and contributed to increased absences across the piece. Whilst the pandemic has exac-


erbated a number of issues for the NHS, the way in which the system responded to Covid-19 does provide a blueprint for recovery. During the pandemic, the NHS rolled out new digital and data innovations at breakneck speed in order to keep key parts of the service operating. Tis was no clearer than in the rapid expansion of NHS Near Me, which went from handling hundreds of


34 | FUTURESCOT | SUMMER 2021


appointments per week to hun- dreds of thousands in the space of a month. Clearly the old analogy about speed boats and oil tankers bears no weight when faced with a global public health emergency. Te pharmaceutical industry be-


lieves that a more agile NHS which uses data and new digital solutions can not only help tackle the patient backlog but also provide better care in the process. Data is a tool which can help clinicians make better decisions, but investment and clear policy direction is required for pandemic-induced improvements to be rolled into regular practice. Terefore, it is crucial that the new Scottish Government develops, and funds, a Healthcare Data strategy to not only transform the landscape but equip nurses and doctors with


the latest digital technology to implement lasting improvements. For the pharmaceutical industry


innovation is at the heart of what we do, and the pandemic demonstrated what can be achieved when all parts of the system work together. Te next stage should focus on how we take beneficial Covid-19 changes and embed them within care. For patients and the NHS, the speedier adoption of innovation must be one of these changes and we can no longer wait a generation for this to happen. l


Alison Culpan Director, ABPI Scotland


Partner Content in association


with ABPI Scotland.


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