Digital health and care strategy: enabling, connecting and empowering

A refreshed strategy is available at (October 2021).


The Case for Change

We gathered views from people who use our health and care services [5] , through the Our Voice Citizens' Panel, health and care professionals, third sector organisations, technology professionals and managers, representatives of industry and innovators, academia, managers and planners of health and care policy and services. We established an External Expert Panel [6] for us to gain a broader perspective and look at developments outwith Scotland, which enabled us to draw upon world- leading experts with a wealth of knowledge and extensive experience to advise us on Scotland's approach. We benefitted too from the evidence generated by the Scottish Parliament's Health and Sport Committee inquiry into Technology & Innovation in Health & Social Care [7] .

Across this engagement a number of themes are prominent, including the need for better interoperability and integration across different sectors and systems, better user experience, better processes and decision making around data sharing and access to records, stronger national leadership that promotes and enables a cultural shift in the use of digital, improved access to technology and infrastructure such as connectivity, an accelerated approach to scaling up, and doing things once nationally or regionally rather than multiple times locally. People want improved access, they want convenience, personalised services, the ability to self-manage and they want trust in the system as to how their data is used.

These are themes that are not particular to Scotland. We know that our approach to date – similar to almost every other healthcare system in the world – has resulted in an over-reliance on a small number of technology suppliers and an abundance of 'closed disparate systems'. Vital information needed for high quality care is either entirely restricted to individual systems, or is difficult to share. All evidence now suggests that we need a new model that involves a more open and flexible approach that better enables the delivery of citizen-centred services, health and social care integration and self-directed support.

The need for change has also been highlighted by the Health and Sport Committee, whose findings were echoed in our own engagement, and the new approach has been informed by the External Expert Panel based on their extensive learning from elsewhere.

Our engagement does not stop with the development of this strategy. Learning from other areas is a continuous process, as is seeking out formal partnerships with other UK and European regions in order to develop new approaches to delivering services through specific UK and European collaboration and funding opportunities such as the UK Government's Industrial strategy Challenge Fund ( ICSF) and EU Horizon 2020 Programme. Indeed, a number of specific strands of work have been shaped by European and UK funded programmes, for example in relation to home and mobile health monitoring and mental health.


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