Scotland is an ambitious and caring nation, which is renowned for innovation. Whilst we strive to optimise our home-grown skills and opportunities, we also recognise the mutual benefits that can be derived from working in partnership with other experts, sectors and countries. Our approach to the use of technology within our health, care and support services is an excellent example of a successful partnership approach to innovation and one which has significant potential to increase choice and control for our citizens and support a necessary 'step-change' in our services.
Technology plays an increasing role in our everyday lives, with phenomenal growth levels in acceptability and usage - for example, the use of mobile phones by adults has gone from less than 50% of the population to over 90% in less than a decade. However, there are challenges to embedding such technological advancements within our health and care environment and we have embarked on a journey to systematically identify and overcome these in order to maximise benefits and impacts. In particular it is vital that the people of Scotland are comfortable and confident in using digital technologies - technologies that can and do enable individuals to become more directly involved in the design and management of their own health, care and wellbeing.
We firmly believe that telehealth and telecare contribute enormously to:
- the Scottish Government's 2020 Vision for our health system - a vision where everyone is able to live longer, healthier lives at home or in a homely setting;
- integrated health and adult social care as a key policy and strategic priority;
- and to the European Commission's ambition for 2020, where we aim to see an increase in the average healthy life years by two years.
The European Commission has already endorsed Scotland's "true results, dynamism, inspiration and leadership" in this area, supporting our Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing Mr Alex Neil's vision for telehealthcare as being "absolutely central to the future, not just of our health system, but to the future of the nation".
Telecare and telehealth have already made an effective contribution to the early redesign of our health, social care, housing, third and independent sector services in Scotland - our challenge now is to continue to innovate and expand 'technology-enabled' service redesign at scale. This national delivery plan outlines Scotland's ongoing commitment and investment in this area.
Chief Executive, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities
Director General, Health and Social Care and Chief Executive, NHSScotland
Email: Alistair Hodgson