New board to drive implementation of Scotland’s digital health and care strategy

Scotland's new digital health and care strategy, published yesterday (25 April), sets out a series of commitments to drive the development of the infrastructure needed to empower citizens to take control of their health and wellbeing and improve service delivery.

[Edinburgh, Scotland] A new national decision-making board will be in charge of driving the implementation of Scotland’s digital health and care strategy starting from July. 

Setting out the requirements necessary to fully harness the power of information and technology, the strategy, published yesterday (25 April), was developed by the Scottish government in collaboration with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), NHS Scotland and a panel of national and international experts.

It sets out a twofold aim:

  • Empowering citizens to take control of their own health and wellbeing
  • Putting in place the ‘underpinning architectural and information governance building blocks’ to drive interoperability across health and care in Scotland.

It requires stakeholders to work across six different domains, keeping in mind an user-centred approach to the design and implementation of new platforms, issuing a call for wider adoption of the Digital First Service Standard – which offers 22 criteria across three different themes for digital services developed in the country. 

The six domains focus on:

  • Leadership
  • IG, assurance and cybersecurity
  • Service transformation
  • Workforce capability
  • A new national digital platform
  • A transition process.

Part of the leadership strand, the new national board will bring together representatives from a variety of stakeholders to identify priorities for further development and improvement, overseeing ‘adherence to standards’ or the necessary financial framework, among others.

Organisations directly responsible for the implementation phase of the strategy will have to report regularly to the board.

Meanwhile, a national digital platform will offer access to real-time information from patient health records, enabling innovation in a 'safe and secure' way. 

"This will be delivered through the development of a new architecture, the use of secure cloud-based services and the use of common shared international standards," it is noted in the strategy. 

By 2020, ‘clear arrangements’ will also be put in place to support the delivery of a ‘consistent’ approach to Information Assurance across health and care, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force next month, while strengthening the cyber defence capabilities of the system. 

In addition, NHS Education for Scotland, the Local Government Digital Office and the Scottish Social Services Council will create a plan to provide staff with the skills needed to efficiently use digital technology platforms. 

A cohort of leaders will also be supported to participate in the NHS Digital Academy programme, led by CEO Rachel Dunscombe, Chair of the HIMSS UK Advisory Board

Shona Robison, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, said:  

“The new Strategy represents a real opportunity to build on achievements to date and maximise the opportunities for digital for the future, supporting the more preventative, person-centred care that we want to see.”

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