Care in the Digital Age: delivery plan 2024 to 2025

Update for 2024 to 2025 to the national digital health and care strategy's delivery plan which describes activities supporting Health Boards, HSCPs, local authorities, primary care, social care, social work, and care providers to offer new or improved services.

Care in the Digital Age: Delivery Plan 2024-25

Delivery Plan 2024-25

In November 2022, we published the first annual delivery plan for Scotland’s Digital Health and Care Strategy, setting out the practical measures we would implement in order to achieve our shared ambitions for digital across Scotland’s health and social care systems. At that time, we committed to updating the Delivery Plan on an annual basis, moving towards a regular April-March reporting cycle. This will encourage an easier read-across with other organisations’ deliverables and reporting requirements.

In line with previous iterations, this update sets out those activities that support NHS Health Boards, Health and Social Care Partnerships, local authorities, primary care, social work, and housing and care providers to offer new or improved services, with better systems, infrastructure and improved access. The priorities it contains reflect our ongoing commitment to a shared ambition, and to working collaboratively with organisations across the sector to achieve the aims set out in the overall Digital Health and Care Strategy. This annual update is also a more streamlined reference document that focuses on the reported progress of our agreed deliverables and any updated or revised timescales for our priority programmes and projects in the coming year. You can read more about the background to our activities and the development of our programmes and priorities in the Delivery Plan 2023-24.

The period 2023-24

In the past year, we have delivered several key commitments that support the realisation of our digital ambitions.

In February 2023, we published Scotland’s first dedicated Data Strategy for Health and Social Care. The result of extensive stakeholder engagement, this sets out the key elements in ensuring that data is consistently and securely managed; and to support the development of new treatments and methods of support and, ultimately, improved outcomes. The Data Strategy sets out what the use of data means for those using and providing health and care services, and for researchers and innovators. The first annual delivery update for the Data Strategy was published in April 2024: Data Strategy for Health and Social Care 2024 Update: Our progress and priorities.

Remote monitoring services have continued to expand, supporting people in the home environment and enabling them to actively participate in their care. Connect Me allows for people to report their blood pressure readings and health information using simple equipment and through mechanisms such as text message, app, or online. Some 80,000 people are monitoring their blood pressure at home, and we continue to engage with NHS Health Boards to ensure its further roll out.

A new system for CHI (Community Health Index) commenced in November 2023, consolidating eight legacy systems under a single, cloud-based technology and supporting some 430 data flows where CHI is used in health and care systems to uniquely identify patients and their related records. The new system enhances the information available and the ease with which it can be used by health professionals, supporting a better quality of service for the public and quality data for researchers in developing new methods and treatments. Initially, this delivers a ‘like for like’ functionality but will allow us to explore new opportunities such as better recording of people’s protected characteristics; and capture more information about where people receive their care, such as a care home, GP surgery, dentist, or hospital.

We have begun the work required to create an Integrated Social Care and Health Record, a key digital component in the delivery of the National Care Service (NCS). The Integrated Record will allow safe, secure and efficient sharing of social care and health data across relevant care settings, including with the individual and allow people to actively engage with their own care. Up to date information will be available to those providing support and care, so that people do not have to repeat their stories. Drawing together data across a range of sources to be displayed as one record will increase opportunities to identify the need for early intervention, and support the prevention of harm; while a nationally consistent format and agreed definitions will deliver consistency and support the portability of care between different areas in Scotland.

The Seer 2 platform commenced in November 2023 and was officially launched by the Cabinet Secretary for NHS Recovery, Health and Social Care in February 2024. This provides enhanced capacity and capability in providing near real-time data from across Scotland’s health and care systems to inform decision-making and generate insight. Using cloud technology, the Seer 2 platform has already provided analytical support in the Scottish Government’s Winter planning and looking forward will develop further through the use of machine learning tools and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

We have begun work on an automated NHS theatre scheduling system, following a successful pilot through the ANIA (Accelerated National Innovation Authority) pathway in NHS Forth Valley and NHS Lothian. The new system will increase patient throughput and reduce long-term waiting lists for planned procedures. It will standardise scheduling workflows and employ rules-based automation and enhanced data capability to optimise theatre use. This will increase productivity, remove paper processes and reduce the administrative burden in the creation of theatre lists. The business case for a national solution across the NHS in Scotland was approved in October 2023, with the procurement process completed in April 2024. Implementation will then take place over a 12 month period.

In July 2023, we completed the first nationwide Digital Maturity assessment undertaken since 2019. All of Scotland’s NHS Health Boards, Health and Social Care Partnerships, and local authorities were invited to participate, using a new online dashboard to allow each organisation to compare its results against 2019. This exercise is designed to inform our priorities and funding allocations based on clearer understanding of organisations’ digital use and future planning. A national summary of the results was published in December 2023.

We continue to work with NHS Education for Scotland and other organisations, including COSLA’s Digital Office and the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) in supporting staff to develop their skills and career paths in digital. Opportunities for professional development in digital were further enhanced last year with the MSc in Leading Digital Transformation in health and social care, launched in April 2023 with the University of Edinburgh. This year saw 48 applicants successfully enrolled. We are exploring options for a second cohort. In addition, in November 2023, we established a new Digital Capabilities Board designed to encourage cultural change and a shared ambition for digital as a pre-requisite in the improvement of health and care services.

The first phase of our £2 million Digital Inclusion Programme launched in August 2023, with 13 ‘Digital Pioneers’ projects across Scotland, supporting people to access the online support services they need in support of their health and wellbeing. The projects focus initially on mental health and housing services, and as well as identifying potential barriers to access and how these can be addressed, are developing, testing and implementing programmes to help people build their digital skills and confidence. Delivered in partnership with the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), the Programme will benefit more than 1,500 people. The second phase ‘Connecting to Care’ began in April 2024, with seven funded projects across Scotland.

Digital Mental Health services continue to offer additional support, with some 71,000 referrals in the past year. These deliver a range of mental health therapies and increased access for those who wish to use them. Digital therapies such as Sleepio or Daylight enable people to find trustworthy, clinically effective mental health support whenever they need it. The wellbeing site, Mind to Mind, features videos of people with lived experience of mental health challenges, helping people to see they are not alone and providing helpful tips on how to manage their mental health. The video conferencing system Near Me allows people secure access to mental health support that they may not be able to access in person, for example due to disability, or a rural location.

By 2025, all analogue telephony lines will be switched off in favour of digital lines. COSLA’s Digital Office has led on this transfer work and launched the Shared Alarm Receiving Centre for Telecare in Scotland. The newly commissioned Alarm Receiving Centre will, in time, see health and social care services utilising the same technology and data to support people, keeping them safe at home, and responding promptly at times of need. It also offers opportunities to innovate, joining up data across health and social care to maximise our commitment to proactive and preventative care.

What good looks like

Last year, we developed a suite of ‘personae’, illustrations of how the successful implementation of digital can improve the experiences and support available to people using health and care services. This year, we have published some real-life examples of the innovations and positive outcomes being delivered through our work.

  • Connect Me, supporting people in the home environment to monitor their own blood pressure readings and interact with the health and care professionals who support them.
  • The federation of MS 365 across the NHS in Scotland and increasingly in local authorities, enabling more efficient and collaborative cross-team working for staff.
  • The HEPMA (Hospital Electronic Prescribing and Medicine Administration) Programme, that provides a single digital solution for prescribing and managing medicines in hospitals.
  • The Seer 2 platform that provides near real-time data and information to health and social care professionals to inform decision-making, provide improved insights, and support better outcomes across Scotland.
  • The Digital Inclusion Programme, exploring how people may face difficulties in gaining access to digital support and how these might be mitigated, with an initial focus on mental health and housing. For example, housing providers facilitating access to skills and services so that people are better supported – demonstrating how digital can operate beyond health and social care.

Current developments

We are aware of the rapidly increasing use of AI including in health and social care services, and are committed to the ethical and transparent consideration of AI-based tools. We are working with AI policy and innovation colleagues across the UK to develop bespoke guidance for health and social care settings and agree how we can best utilise the opportunities it offers in supporting people and services.

Finally, in common with the public sector generally, we recognise the financial pressures facing Scotland’s health and social care services and how we must continue, as always, to prioritise our work and timescales in response to this. Nevertheless, within those constraints we remain committed to our focus on delivering the key programmes and projects that will achieve maximum impact in the use of digital technology to improve services and people’s wellbeing.

We again thank all those organisations and individuals working together to achieve our shared digital ambitions. We continue to make progress and remain committed to ensuring the delivery of the commitments set out in the Digital Health and Care Strategy, to the benefit of everyone in Scotland who uses or provides health and care services.

The Three Aims of the Digital Health and Care Strategy:

Aim 1: Citizens have access to, and greater control over, their own health and care data – as well as access to the digital information, tools and services they need to help maintain and improve their health and wellbeing.

Aim 2: Health and care services are built on people-centred, safe, secure and ethical digital foundations which allow staff to record, access and share relevant information across the health and care system, and feel confident in their use of digital technology, in order to improve the delivery of care.

Aim 3: Health and care planners, researchers and innovators have secure access to the data they need in order to increase the efficiency of our health and care systems and develop new and improved ways of working.

To deliver our aims and realise the vision, we continue to focus on six priority areas. The deliverables set out in the tables are aligned accordingly for ease of reference on the progress that has been achieved as at April 2024.



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