Scotland Digital Healthcare publishes 2023 delivery plan

Digital Health and Care Scotland has published a national delivery plan for the year ahead, describing how digital activities are to support health and care services.

The plan follows the publication of its strategy ‘Care in the Digital Age’ (October 2021), which focused on the “widespread use of digital solutions” to “meet health and care needs during the coronavirus pandemic”. The plan highlights how during this time “public views changed on using digital to access health and social care services, and how digital can be used to help improve people’s health and care in Scotland”.

The delivery plans focuses on three main aims: to support citizens in accessing and controlling their own health and care data; to ensure that services are built on people-centred, safe, secure and ethical digital foundations; and to make sure that health and care planners, researchers and innovators have secure access to the data they need to increase efficiency and develop improved ways of working.

These aims are supported by six worksteams to cover digital access, digital services, digital foundations, digital skills and leadership, digital futures, and data-driven services and insight.

The delivery plan notes the “unique pressure our health and social care system continues to be under – with winter 2022/23 expected to be one of the most challenging our NHS and social care sector has ever faced”. It notes that therefore, some actions “focus on those immediate priorities that we believe should be driven forward with urgency in the face of current challenges.”

Immediate priorities include supporting providers take steps to ensure contingency measures are in place and recognising the appropriate use of digital and data to support preparations this winter. It notes: “Some of this work is foundational – maximising investment in Microsoft Office 365 to support the integration of NHS and local authority teams, enhancing the digital monitoring capabilities of Hospital@Home services, as well as supporting the availability of Near Me video consultations.”

The plan shares the deliverables for each workstream, highlighting what the action is, why they are doing it, who is leading on it and when it will delivered by. The activities in the delivery plan include:

Digital access: to continue to expand opportunities to embed and grow the use of Near Me; to provide the ability for people to have the choice for a video appointment with social work; public transparency on and access to planned care and outpatient waiting times information for their local services; a prototype online ‘symptom checker in your pocket’ app deployed to deliver existing NHS inform self-care guides as well as signposting people to their nearest GP/pharmacy/dentist/optician/hospital using the Scottish Service Directory; and to launch a digital inclusion programme with a focus on mental health and housing.

Digital Services: to expand capability to deliver self-management resources, advice and guidance; expansion of Mind to Mind; increased self-management opportunities for people with high blood pressure; the ability for local services to offer to their patients new nationally-consistent pathways for at-home monitoring of a greater range of long term conditions such as COPD, heart failure and asthma; implementation of digital approaches in social care; the ability for people to refer themselves to digital mental health therapies; to introduce new workforce models that increase capability and capacity; an implementation plan for a Digital Front Door; establishing the digital contribution to the reduction of drug-related harm; improvements to telecare services; page12image2677722944and establishing national decision support service.

Digital Foundations: to conduct a national Digital Maturity exercise; to continue to improve the security of NHS systems and grow a specialist cyber workforce through the Cyber Centre of Excellence; the ability for Health Boards to offer new, more advanced systems for GP practices through the national GP IT programme; an improved hospital bed management system in critical care; expanding National Clinical Data Store; implementing a new Inventory Management System;  fully implementing Hospital Electronic Prescribing and Management Administration; enhancing diagnostic capability; a modern master patient management system; a federated collaboration of Microsoft 365; enhancing information sharing between Primary Care and the Scottish Ambulance Service; establishing a new National Information Governance Programme; an options appraisal for a new national approach to Radiology Information Systems; tools to support flexible workforce arrangements; and a digital prescribing system for GPs and citizens in Scotland.

Digital Skills and Leadership: to publish an action plan clarifying the range of learning and development options for an integrated workforce; to detail digital principles, learning outcomes and outputs, evaluation methodology and measurements of progress; to provide a Leading Digital Transformation in Health and Care MSc for 60 people a year; a review of the Information Governance Framework; to ceate a library of digital skills resources; and the creation of a Knowledge, Information and Data (KIND) virtual learning academy.

Digital Futures: to explore opportunities for knowledge exchange and collaboration with international stakeholders; to provide continued support for innovation through development of Healthy Ageing and Mental Health innovation; and to develop an effective partnership model.

Data-Driven Services and Insights: to develop the approach to the introduction of legally mandated standards for the safe and effective sharing of information across health and social care, under the powers proposed by the National Care Service (Scotland) Bill; to develop an approach to improving the quality and consistency of protected characteristic demographic data (such as ethnicity); to develop a national approach to the ethical, transparent consideration of adoption and implementation of Artificial Intelligence based tools, products and services; enhanced capability for statistical analysis, reporting and use of predictive analytics by shifting from a data warehouse to cloud hosted data storage and reporting system (SEER platform); and publication of the responses to and analysis of the consultation on the Data Strategy for health and care.

To view the delivery plan, please click here.