Secondary Care

Scotland sets out digital strategy

The Scottish Government has published its strategy for how to help the nation “achieve its potential” in a “constantly evolving” digital world.

The strategy, jointly owned by local and national government, is part of a collaboration with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) to deliver a “refreshed Digital Strategy for Scotland”, which it calls a “shared vision of a modern, digital and collaborative government, designed around people”.

Entitled ‘A changing nation: how Scotland will thrive in a digital world’, the extensive document sets out not only the main principles for a digital nation but also Scotland’s National Performance Framework (NPF) and 11 key themes.

“We live in a digital world,” the publication states, “it’s changing the way we work…transforming our expectations of public services and requires Government to change the way it works to meet these expectations.”

Acknowledging that “the digital agenda goes beyond the adoption of the latest digital technology”, it adds that “it’s about the adoption of digital thinking, the way we lead organisations and how we embrace the culture and processes of the digital age. “

The introduction says that “for Scotland to thrive in this digital world” its response must “embrace three key opportunities”. It describes these as:

  • Designing and implementing technology in a secure, efficient and user-centred way
  • Realising the potential of data to improve services, increase efficiency and deliver better outcomes
  • Transforming culture and ways of working through digital thinking, with an emphasis on openness, networking and agility.

The pandemic, it adds, has shown that the public sector “needs to be able to act at speed” to “deliver new services” and “bring data together to innovate, provide insight and enable effective decision making”, while it has also highlighted the importance of wellbeing and of “working as part of an ecosystem of organisations”.

In relation to healthcare and the NHS, the strategy makes note that Scotland must “reinvent our public services to make them more personal, accountable, adaptable, efficient, secure, sustainable and worthy of public trust”, and that government, NHS, and councils should be “transformed into true digital organisations with digital skills, cultures and operating models”.

The principles, which it calls the “backbone of this strategy”, focus on eight areas:

  • Inclusive, Ethical and User-Focused – to understand the needs of communities and involve them in the design of inclusive, ethical and resilient products and services, with outcomes focused on a user perspective rather than an organisational one.
  • A Skilled Digital Workforce – to develop a digital future where no one is left behind and ensure people are equipped with the skills to thrive, and ensure organisations plan for digital roles in the future.
  • Digital Leadership and Culture – adapting leadership styles to champion change, and to engage and empower staff to innovate.
  • Collaborative – collaborating at community, local, regional and national levels, and across sectors.
  • Data-Driven – allowing data to increase transparency, empower communities, transform products and services, fuel innovation and improve outcomes.
  • Technology-enabled – seek out opportunities to explore how new technology can improve outcomes for Scotland.
  • Innovative and Sustainable – creating an environment that allows organisations to share challenges and ideas, and to co-develop and co-produce solutions.
  • Secure by Design – recognising threats to privacy and building security into digital services by design.

Scotland’s NPF meanwhile, outlines its purpose – which includes a focus on being healthy and active – as building a “more successful country with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish through increased wellbeing, and sustainable and inclusive economic growth.”

The priority themes, divided into three parts, are: People and Place; No One Left Behind; An Ethical Digital Nation; Digital Education and Skills; A Strong Economy; Helping All Businesses to Become Digital Businesses; Supporting Our Digital Technology Sector; Digital Government and Services; Public Services Working For Us All; and Transforming Government.

Of particular interest for health tech professionals are the aims to: deliver broadband coverage for all; ensure everyone can access services; build public trust in data; open up access to data; establish the Scottish Digital Academy as the skills provider of choice; establish a resource of digital and data experts that the public sector can call upon; create a Data Science Competency Centre; increase diversity in the digital workforce; and launch Scotland’s AI strategy.

In relation to the healthcare sector, interesting intersections include a pledge to “commit to using common digital and data standards that enable us to work across boundaries and deliver personalised and preventive services”, to be “data driven, using data systematically to improve decision making, saving time, money and lives”, and to “stimulate innovation through innovative procurement and the availability of non-personalised research data.”

To find out more about the strategy, the government’s aims, and how these align with the wider framework, click here.