Coronavirus (COVID-19) digital health and care response: 2021 update

Report providing an update on the scale-up and adoption of digital health and care solutions in Scotland, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Making It Possible

On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. The response by the Scottish Government's Digital Health and Care Directorate was immediate. All active work programmes were subject to a refocusing of priorities, with the objective to identify and extend digital solutions to support the COVID-19 response.

Reflecting on the Directorate's response to COVID-19, the features that characterise this response demonstrate an enabling culture and infrastructure that made it possible to progress the deployment of digitally enabled services more rapidly. These characteristics include:


  • Recognition of the value of existing programmes and established partnerships provided the foundation for increased capacity and scale-up of services.
  • Leadership provided by the Scottish Government Digital Health and Care Directorate provided clear direction.
  • Communication facilitated rapid learning with senior stakeholders from policy, health, care, third sector, housing, and technology supplier organisations.
  • Providing support for partner organisations around service continuity strengthened relationships and fosters new collaborations across sectors.
  • Knowledge exchange with Scottish, UK and international colleagues working on the COVID-19 response supported reflection and identification of key insights.
  • Continued engagement and consultation with the public and groups of interest throughout the pandemic was achievable and valuable.


Emergency COVID-19 governance arrangements for Digital Health and Care, to monitor progress via the governance structure of the Gold, Silver and Bronze command. Two Silver Command groups facilitate decision making pertaining to digital applications and systems and data with implementation being driven through Bronze-level partnerships. This structure to support governance has facilitated early consideration of priorities and quick decision making to support delivery of digital tools and approaches.


Rigour and resilience

A supportive culture is essential, but the rigour provided by the following practical steps and agreements allowed the innovation to be realised. Including:

  • Accelerated procurement processes to support the roll-out of solutions supported by:
    • national Information Governance templates, for rapid assessment of risk (to enable agility) and assessment of impact of solutions.
    • utilising Tests of Change for new digital solutions and to shape new services.
  • Shift to remote working for the Digital Health and Care Directorate, facilitated by the roll out of Microsoft Teams and a range of online collaborative working tools.

The sections of the report which follow provide updates on the Directorate's work programmes that have been extended, maintained, scaled-up and commenced as part of the Scottish Government's response. 



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