Cabinet Secretary's Foreword
The Scottish Government's Vision is that by 2020 everyone is able to live longer, healthier lives at home or in a homely setting. NHSScotland is engaged in a continual process to improve healthcare services so it can be recognised by the people of Scotland, and wider afield, as one of the best healthcare systems in the world.
We have a related 2020 eHealth Vision that everyone's health and wellbeing can be better supported through greater use of digital technology. eHealth is the key to how we access, use and share information within and across NHS Boards and with partner organisations in order to deliver integrated health and social care; how we support patients and their carers to make informed decisions to manage their health and wellbeing; and how we use health data appropriately to improve the effectiveness of services and treatment and make significant advances in medical research.
Since 2011, and the publication of the second eHealth Strategy, much has been achieved. This includes the widespread implementation of the national Patient Management System across Scotland's hospitals, the implementation in all GP practices of the award-winning Key Information Summary for patients with long-term conditions who are likely to require care at weekends or out-of-hours, and the adoption of clinical portals by NHS Boards to enable improved information sharing between clinical professionals. This has been achieved through collaboration and collective leadership at local, regional and national levels.
But eHealth has even greater potential to enable service change, and this is reflected in this refresh of NHSScotland's eHealth Strategy. The existing six eHealth aims have been retained, together with a new aim relating to innovation. These aims have been the pillars of successful delivery over the last three years and they will guide development over the period to 2020. In summary, they are: enhancing the availability of patient information; supporting people to communicate with NHSScotland; contributing to care integration; improving the safety of medicines; enhancing the availability of clinical and management information; maximising efficient working practices; and contributing to innovation. The new aim is specifically intended to increase academia's and industry's contribution to developing new and innovative solutions in health and care, and to grow Scotland's economy in health and care technology.
The period to 2017 is the focus of this eHealth Strategy, and in that time I expect that considerable progress will be made across Scotland in all of these areas. By 2020 I anticipate that eHealth will be making a truly transformational contribution to the way health and care professionals work and to how patients access safer, more person-centred and more effective health and care services. This refresh provides NHS Boards with the next chapter to continue their journey of collaboration to deliver joined-up eHealth solutions that are focused on patients and their needs, regardless of where they come into contact with NHSScotland and the wider health and social care system.
Whilst this Strategy sets a shared vision and direction, it will be successful delivery of key local, regional and national projects over the next few years that will ultimately resolve the many complex challenges, provide sustainable eHealth solutions, and result in benefits for patients and staff. I recognise that past success in eHealth in Scotland is due in no small part to the many eHealth professionals who keep current systems working effectively whilst delivering critical new capability, and also to the many health and social care workers who champion eHealth as a means of improving their own effectiveness and hence delivering better outcomes for patients.
I welcome and appreciate the leadership, commitment and effort shown by this community which will be crucial to the delivery of this eHealth Strategy and ultimately the 2020 Vision of health and care in Scotland.
Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport
Email: Alan Milbourne