Scottish government urged to address barriers in digitising health and care

A new report from the Scottish parliament’s Health and Sport committee looks at the main barriers in digitising the NHS, urging the government to take action.

[Edinburgh, Scotland] MSPs are asking the Scottish government to ‘step in’ and ensure NHS Scotland takes advantage of the opportunities digital technology can offer to improve delivery of services after identifying a number of impediments.

The new report from the Scottish parliament’s Health and Sport committee, published last week, draws attention to the main barriers slowing down digitisation of the NHS ahead of the publication of the new digital health and care strategy in spring this year.

Findings from their inquiry indicate there is a ‘disconnect’ between previous government strategies and local delivery of IT programmes, cited as a barrier to wider adoption of innovative platforms.

The government should encourage a ‘more enterprising spirit and innovative culture in the NHS and social care’, the committee said, putting emphasis on the importance of clinician buy-in.

It should also engage a variety of stakeholders and develop a ‘financial framework’ for the delivery of the new strategy.  

The inquiry also looked at the ‘huge variation’ in the use of systems that record clinical data across NHS Scotland, with the lack of information sharing identified as ‘both a barrier and an impediment’.

Lewis Macdonald MSP, Convener of the committee, said:

“When the Committee agreed to carry out this inquiry, members expected to investigate different ways where ground-breaking and innovative technologies could make dramatic changes to the way the health and social care sector operates. Instead, we’ve heard how a number of barriers are preventing change from happening.

“The Committee wants Scotland to remain a leader in health and social care and to do so we must make sure innovation flourishes. We are asking the Scottish Government to be bold and offer strong leadership to tackle these.”

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