Digital Health & Care Strategy
The Digital Health & Care Strategy, published in October 2021, is a joint initiative between the Scottish Government and COSLA. It is our guiding star, outlining approaches to improve the care and wellbeing of people in Scotland by making best use of data and digital technologies in the design and delivery of services. This includes work to further develop the infrastructure to deliver digital services and initiatives to provide staff with the tools and training to feel confident in their use of data and digital technology. It has a strong focus on citizen engagement, person-led care and addressing inequalities.
Scotland’s refreshed Digital Health & Care Strategy was launched on 27th October 2021. A joint initiative between the Scottish Government and CoSLA, it outlines approaches to improve the care and wellbeing of people in Scotland by making best use of digital technologies in the design and delivery of services. This includes work to further develop the infrastructure to deliver digital services and initiatives to provide staff with the tools and training to feel confident in their use of digital technology.
The strategy builds upon the digital successes which were accelerated as a result of Covid-19, such as Near Me video consulting; Microsoft Teams implemented across our NHS estate; information sharing barriers addressed at speed; digital capability increased in care homes; the increased remote monitoring and self-management of conditions from home; and the greater emphasis on using NHS Inform as the first access point to services. The pandemic made it apparent the importance of good quality data that flows across health and care systems effectively, therefore the Strategy commits to the development of a dedicated Data Strategy for Health & Social Care. This will set out how citizens can be given access to, and greater control over, their own health and social care data.
The delivery of our strategy is a collective effort across health and care partners working in the statutory, third, innovation, academic and private sectors. Our Strategy was developed in consultation and collaboration with these partners.
Putting people at the heart of what we do
Being able to use digitally enabled services requires people to have access to devices, connectivity and the skills to use a device. Our refreshed strategy has a strong focus on digital inclusion, addressing inequalities and ensuring people are at the heart of what we do. In partnership with the Connecting Scotland programme we are working to ensure that the most vulnerable have access to digital devices, bandwidth, broadband or Wi-Fi, and support with digital skills.
It is important that when we develop digital products and services, we respect human rights and ensure they are developed in a safe, secure and ethical way. We also know that digital will not always suit everyone all of the time and therefore understand that digital must be a choice. In some situations, face to face interaction or a blended approach, combining digital and face to face will be more appropriate.
Citizen engagement, including working with service users in the design, development and delivery of health and care services is also central to our approach. By engaging with people in this inclusive way we are much better placed to fully understand and meet the health and care needs of the people of Scotland. To find out more about our work on citizen engagement see (link to citizen engagement).
Digital skills and innovation in health and care
The success of digital transformation in Scotland is entirely reliant on people’s ability to know when, why and crucially how to use digital. Our Strategy has a strong focus on ensuring that our health and care workforce have the digital skills and capabilities required to operate in this rapidly accelerating digital environment. A programme of work is being undertaken by the directorate to ensure that the health and care workforce not only have the technical skills to work digitally but also are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to engage effectively with service users via digital means. For further information see our Digital Workforce section.
To ensure we remain at the forefront of technological advances and innovation we are investing in Innovation Centres in Scotland, with a dedicated centre for health and care innovation. It is focused on transforming great ideas into real solutions for key Scottish health challenges with the aim of helping the people of Scotland live longer, healthier lives, while providing sustainable and inclusive growth for our economy. We also value knowledge exchange and collaboration with countries across the globe and have an active international engagement programme where we can share and learn from others – for more information see our International Engagement section.
We caught up with the Interim Director for Digital Health & Care, Jonathan Cameron to find out more about the Digital Health and Care Strategy refresh.
This research is helping shape our Data Strategy for Health & Social Care. We wanted to hear the views of people in Scotland, whose voices are often less heard, on accessing, sharing and controlling their own health and care data.