The Digital Health and Care Institute is working in collaboration with the Scottish Government to launch the next research and development phase of the innovative ‘decision support programme’.

This programme supports use of information and artificial intelligence in decision-making by frontline health and care staff, and in better self-management of health by Scottish citizens.

As a springboard for this latest phase, the decision support programme has released the pilot version of the Right Decision Service ( This website supports staff to more easily find and create a broad range of decision support tools for self-management, shared decision-making and frontline care.

These tools use information, expert systems based on research knowledge and artificial intelligence to prompt swift and appropriate action for safe, high quality care focused on the individual needs of each patient.

The tools are easily accessible on-line and via mobile apps and aim to be embedded in electronic health records in future. The tools are designed to open digital standards to enable future integration with developing national health and care platforms and other relevant data and information systems.

Earlier groundwork with a number of partners in Government, NHS Scotland and others has shown that these tools to support decision-making can deliver up to a 9-fold improvement in screening for diabetes related complications.

Other early Right Decision tools have been developed for safe prescribing of antibiotics, shared decision-making with people living with multiple conditions, and care at home staff delivering palliative and end of life care.

Key areas of focus for this next stage of research and development, from September 2019 up until March 2020, include:

-testing integration with primary care electronic health records to empower practitioners and people taking multiple medicines, and those living with chronic pain, to engage in well-informed and joint decision-making;
-testing the benefits of decision support on managing demand and capacity in requests for radiology services.

The Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Health, Jeanne Freeman, said: “Decision support is a key objective within the Digital Health and Care Strategy and a prime enabler of Realistic Medicine, because of its potential to transform delivery of health and care. Decision support tools show how effective use of information and artificial intelligence can strengthen self-management and enable people to live well at home for longer. They can enable timely and appropriate referral across agencies; support remote and rural care; improve triage in accident and emergency and empower communities to meet the goals of public health reform and social care reform.”

DHI’s Chief Executive, Professor George Crooks OBE, said: “DHI is committed to realising the full potential benefits of decision support in shifting the balance of care to citizen and community empowerment and strengthening public health and social care. Decision support tools put the person’s needs and values at the centre of interactions with healthcare professionals and the healthcare system.

“Targeting the general public as well as health and care professionals, across Scotland, will help deliver safer and more effective choices for everyone. These tools enable prevention, early detection and risk management to strengthen self-management and support in the community and at home, reducing avoidable referral to health services. In these ways, decision support facilitates integrated health and social care, improves timely, appropriate access to services, and focuses on individual mental and emotional needs as well as physical health.”