Safer medicines – what role can digital tools play?

Guest blog by Pieter van de Graaf – eHealth Clinical Strategy Lead, Scottish Government – as part of Scottish Digital Health & Care Week 2015.

ehealth blog 3 pic 1.jpgMedication is a key part of effective healthcare. Yet, medication related errors, either on the clinician or patient side, can have serious health consequences.

In Scotland, two key programmes are aimed at increasing the safety of medicine use taking a whole system approach: the Scottish Patient Safety Programme – Medicines and the eHealth Integrated Safer Medicines Programme, part of Prescription for Excellence and the eHealth Strategy. Clearly, there are important overlaps between these two programmes in areas where patients and health & care workers make decisions together. Both include the use of digital tools to support such joint decision making.

Our ultimate aim is that all health and care professionals, and individual patients (or their family or carers), can access a complete medication list. This view should be an integrated summary of all medicines prescribed, dispensed, and taken for all pathways of care to assist effective (joint) decision making.

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We’re hoping that using digital tools and IT systems to increase the safety of medicines will work in several different ways:

  • enable patient data to be captured, recorded and stored more accurately, safely and efficiently;
  • allow those data to be shared more safely, easily and effectively between different professional groups;
  • enable better informed decision making;
  • allow inefficient processes to be streamlined;
  • enable patients to have a more active role in decision making.

Changing existing working practices to introduce such digital tools and systems can be challenging. The introduction of new ways of working together will require a change in behaviour from both health professionals and patients, supported by training and guidance.

We have on-going discussions with health professionals on our digital approach to safer medicines. This blog is the start of our conversation with those who are affected most: you.

Please join the National Conversation and give us your views on the role of digital tools in realising safer medicines in Scotland.

Integrated health and care services – the Scottish approach

Guest blog by Keith Willcock – eHealth Policy & Strategy Lead, Scottish Government – as part of Scottish Digital Health & Care Week 2015.

ehealth blog 2 pic 1 The integration of health and social care services is a key Scottish Government policy, focussed on meeting the challenges of Scotland’s ageing population by shifting resources to community-based and preventative care at home, or in a homely setting.

eHealth is the key to how information is accessed, used and shared within and across NHS Boards and with partner organisations to deliver integrated health and social care and, as such, is a prime enabler of the delivery of the 2020 Vision for Health and Social Care.

In our vision, the citizen (and/or their carer) sits at the heart of the health and social care team and, where possible, takes an active role. Digital tools can support self-management and strengthen the interaction with health and care professionals. Our eHealth Strategy details how we support this vision.

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Progress so far with patient-facing health IT developments in Scotland include:

  • The NHS Inform website is being significantly redesigned with a focus on health and wellbeing and self-management support across Long term Conditions;
  • Comprehensive patient platforms for chronic conditions such as PatientView and MyDiabetesMyWay. These provide digital tools for patients with conditions which best lend themselves to effective self-management and co-production with clinicians;
  • Primary Care Digital Service. Around a quarter of GP practices in Scotland now offer on-line services such as appointment booking. We’re promoting the wider adoption of such services by investing in a Digital Services Development Fund over the next three years.

We are developing a patient portal enabling citizens to easily access many of the digital health and care services on offer.

Please join the National Conversation to give us your view on what digital health & care services you would like to see in the future.

Your digital health record – what role could you play?

Guest blog by Bettina Sizeland – Head of eHealth Policy & Strategy, Scottish Government – as part of Scottish Digital Health & Care Week 2015.

A12864964We live in the digital age. At the same time, healthcare in Scotland is moving increasingly towards more multi-disciplinary team working, patient involvement and self-management. This requires us to become much better at sharing and using health information. Digital tools and IT systems are of great help to get the best value out of the vast data resource the NHS holds. Also, they could link professional care information with data recorded by patients themselves, e.g. through wearables or apps.

Electronic patient information in Scotland is managed by the NHS Boards and GPs, with the management arrangements governed by legislation and Scottish Government policy guidance. Where clinicians are handling and ehealth blog 1 pic 2.pngstoring personal information provided by a patient, they are legally obliged to protect that information. However, there is also a “duty to share” to ensure decisions on care along the patient journey are based on information that is as up-to-date and complete as possible.

The strategic approach to digital patient information in Scotland has been to integrate an increasing number of key health care IT systems to enable this. National data services are in place to underpin information exchange between these systems. This includes the development over the last few years of several patient information summaries from the GP records for sharing with other care services, such as the ambulance and out-of-hours services.

So far, the ability for patients to contribute to their records held by NHS Scotland has been limited. We’re currently exploring how we can start to change this in the near future. This would include giving citizens the ability to view a summary of their medical record and, as a next step, to contribute information and data.

Please join the National Conversation and give us your views on what role you would see for yourself in ensuring your digital health record is complete and up-to-date.