Supporting & Empowering Scotlands Citizens: National Action Plan for Technology Enabled Care

Sets out actions to help people access and use technology to support their health and wellbeing at home and in their communities.


Development of the use of digital across society, including throughout the public sector, is a key strategic priority of the Scottish Government. Within the context of health, housing & social care, digital technology offers new and exciting opportunities for transforming the outcomes and experience of our citizens - including patients, service users and carers - as well as transforming the quality and reducing costs of health and care services.

Scotland is currently at the forefront of implementing technology within care settings (for example, over 80% of those in receipt of formal social care services already use telecare to support their independence at home), but there is still massive potential to reach more people, to offer more direct health/care support and to realise more benefits. It is imperative we continue to invest energy, imagination and resources to maintain our leading position.

This Technology Enabled Care Action Plan aims to support a transition to an integrated Digital Health and Care Strategy for Scotland from 2017 within the context of Scotland's Public Sector Reform ambitions, which specifically identifies digital as a core building block. [1] The new strategy will supersede and build on the successes of the eHealth Strategy to 2017 and the National Telehealth and Telecare Delivery Plan to 2016.

The National Clinical Strategy for Scotland, which sets out our ambitions for how health and social care will evolve over the next fifteen years, also recognises the importance of shifting to greater self-management and independence. This has a greater focus on person-centred and community delivered care, underpinned by increased adoption of modern technologies.

With the advances already made in the introduction of technology opportunities within our health and care system in Scotland, it is now appropriate to shift our focus from 'technology' itself to 'care, supported by technology'. To support this transition, the Scottish Government has adopted Technology Enabled Care' (or TEC) as a simpler and broader term for describing our citizen facing activity.

This change in language recognises:

  • the significant advances in technology, which mean that increasingly only one familiar device, or platform, can carry out multiple functions rather than having to use multiple and specialist devices; and
  • the emphasis needs to be on enabling care using the most up-to-date methods, and not on the technology - i.e., any change needs to be service led and outcomes driven, not technology led.

TEC is an enabler, and its effective use is dependent on health and care commissioners, professionals and providers taking a more strategic and systematic approach to technology that goes well beyond small scale initiatives. TEC can add significant value to the redesign of service processes, and improve the delivery of personalised and preventative care through offering more mobile, responsive and tailored solutions - but only if TEC shifts from being a "desirable option" to a "core necessity".

"…wide scale adoption of TEC will be essential for sustaining the future health and social care system." [2]

There is also a clear and significant shift underway in citizen adoption of technology within everyday lives - 6 out of 10 adults in Scotland now own a Smartphone, and 52% of adults have a tablet computer in their household, [3] with evidence emerging that many people are using technology in support of their health and care.

Do you ever use online healthcare information?

Source: YouGov 2015

Patients using technology to manage their COPD

Source: Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions

Example 1 - Use of Digital for Self-Diagnosis

  • 1 in 4 UK adults currently self-diagnose;
  • Internet is first port of call for health information for adults under 65;
  • 75% of the UK population goes online for health information;
  • UK second in the world behind the US for use of online self-diagnosis.

Success is ultimately dependent on our staff teams, professionals and leaders stepping forward confidently to embrace new models of health and care delivery.

There is also a requirement to integrate more effectively with our wider health and care ICT infrastructure, and this will be a key focus of the new Digital Health & Care Strategy going forward.


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