Opinions

eHealth @ the ALLIANCE

Written by: Ian Welsh, Chief Executive, the ALLIANCE

Published: 07/03/2016

ALLIANCE CEO, Ian Welsh OBE, considers the supersonic change in digital health.

If you travelled by train this morning like me, you probably noticed that 95 per cent of fellow travellers were using a smartphone, kindle, iPad or laptop.  10 years ago they would have been reading a book or a newspaper.  The pace of change in the digital agenda is verging on supersonic.

However, there is a recognition that the use of technology in health and social care is lagging far behind what we expect in other areas of our lives.  This is why eHealth forms a key strand of the strategic development moving health and care into the community and the home.

Scottish Government 2020 Vision
National Clinical Strategy for Scotland

The use of digital technology has the potential to transform the delivery of support and services by the third sector as well as helping make sure services are integrated throughout people’s experiences of accessing health and social care.  The immediate and personal nature of devices such as smartphones and tablets means that eHealth services can literally put control in the hands of people.

The ALLIANCE has entered into a partnership with the Digital Health & Care Institute (DHI), who seek to encourage and facilitate digital innovation in the third sector.  The DHI is one of Scotland’s eight innovation centres and brings together expertise from health professionals, leading academics and businesses to develop new ways of ensuring the health of people in Scotland flourishes.  To date this has included working with the Scottish Ambulance Service to use digital services to reduce hospital admissions; and a mobile app that helps clinicians with melanoma diagnosis.

The DHI is now looking to the third sector to become a major contributor in eHealth innovation, reflecting its importance in providing health and care services in Scotland.

Difficulty in finding partners and experts in innovation often hampers development of transformational ideas.  By joining up the networks of the DHI and the ALLIANCE we can make sure that third sector organisations have the access and support they need to shape the future of eHealth.

This means that we can help members of the ALLIANCE with ideas on how to transform the support people living with long term conditions, disabled people or unpaid carers access by using technology.  The DHI offer various levels of support, depending on the stage your idea or project is at. Services range from the exploratory environment which, will take the seed of an idea and bring together people who can discuss and suggest ways to develop it further; all the way through to a factory environment that will see a product being produced, tested and evaluated in a live environment.

Most recently, DHI has reached an agreement with the Scottish Government to purpose-build a Simulation Laboratory facility to support “readiness checking” for solutions about to be evaluated at scale in the community.  This exciting and globally unique development, due to be up and running in 2016, will not only be an asset for DHI, but also for Scotland’s health & social care and third sector organisations as well as industry partners worldwide.  With this blend of community, partnering and facilities, this further establishes Scotland’s vision of becoming a significant player in the global Digital Health market.

The third sector is a hugely innovative sector constantly finding new ways to offer support to people and to keep people at the centre of what they do.  Many people, however, just see this as part of the job and excellence can be downplayed.  Through this partnership we hope to link up these pockets of innovation and connect them to the networks they need in order to flourish.

If you are interested in knowing more about eHealth or getting involved then please contact: gregory.hill-oconnor@alliance-scotland.org.uk.

Alternatively, you can attend our information event which will give you an opportunity to ask questions about what this partnership can do for you. This will be held on 27th April at the ALLIANCE offices.

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