National Health Service (Digital Wards)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 6 June 2013.

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Photo of Stewart Stevenson Stewart Stevenson Scottish National Party

1. To ask the Scottish Government what discussions it has had with national health service boards regarding the future integration of digital wards. (S4O-02215)

Photo of Alex Neil Alex Neil Scottish National Party

All boards are making progress in increasing the use of digital technologies, increasing access to information, improving efficiency and reducing reliance on paper across all clinical settings. NHS boards are committed to the provision of technology that positively improves the care that healthcare workers can provide in hospital wards and clinics. Boards are actively seeking to address that by using mobile, whiteboard and related technologies. Each NHS board has a delivery plan that outlines how that will be achieved. The Scottish Government regularly meets NHS boards to review progress and consistency with the national e-health strategy.

Photo of Stewart Stevenson Stewart Stevenson Scottish National Party

Is the cabinet secretary aware of the recent University of Edinburgh trial of home blood pressure telemonitors, which allow the general practitioner or specialist to receive and respond timeously to patient-collected data? Given that the trial suggests that there were improved health outcomes for participants, does he agree that further investment in digital infrastructure and the use of direct data feeds to GPs, especially in rural areas, may assist in reducing unnecessary deaths, particularly from stroke and heart disease, where infrequent monitoring may be an issue?

Photo of Alex Neil Alex Neil Scottish National Party

I am aware of the positive results that emerged from the telescot trials and I am pleased that a growing body of evidence shows the effectiveness of supported telemonitoring in achieving clinically important outcomes in primary care settings. The fact that the trial was developed and researched in Scotland is just one reason why, in my view, Scotland is rightly held up across Europe as being in the vanguard in integrating telehealth and telecare into the delivery of services.

At a recent visit that was kindly hosted by East Ayrshire Council, I was able to see at first hand the benefits that home health monitoring brings, not only from enabling individuals to stay in their own home rather than be unnecessarily admitted to hospital, but from improving their health through better self-management. Both of those are key Government policy objectives. In that pilot, the rate of hospitalisation among those involved decreased by 70 per cent.