A Scottish health board has published details of a new five-year digital strategy which seeks to shift health and care services towards a greater degree of planned care, self-management and prevention.

NHS Grampian has revealed details of its digital ambitions in the newly-released Service Transformation through Digital – a Strategy 2020-2025 – which is to go before board members this week for approval.

Under the plan, which aligns to its own clinical strategy and Scottish Government digital health and care aims, digital technology must be ‘central, integral and underpin the necessary transformational change in services in order to improve outcomes for all’.

The board is seeking a ‘step change’ in how patients and care recipients are managed, and digital is viewed as an ‘enabler’ to move away from unscheduled care to planned care, with the ultimate goals of self-management and eventually prevention.

However, in notes prepared for the meeting, the cover document alludes to the necessary central government funding needed to carry the aims of the digital strategy forward. It states: “There is a risk that our digital aims and ambitions cannot be achieved if programmes, projects and initiatives are not funded appropriately.”

The plan says: “NHS Grampian and partners will exploit digital technology to improve health and care, enable staff to work to the best of their abilities and support financial sustainability.

“The goal is to modernise services. To do this will require universal adoption of electronic records and for relevant information to be accessible to all who need it – citizens, clinicians, care providers and analysts. In turn, those electronic systems need to be safe, secure, accessible and reliable.

“The proposed strategy sets out an opportunity to create a digital and interoperable health and social care system, supporting improvement in the safety, effectiveness, efficiency and citizen-centred nature of the services we offer.”

The three key strategies highlighted as relevant to the delivery of the plan are the Grampian Clinical Strategy 2016-2021, the strategic plans of the Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire & Moray Health & Social Care Partnerships (H&SCPs) and the NHS Scotland Digital Health & Care Strategy.

In coordinating its aims, the board proposes a ‘quadruple aims model’, which are to provide:

  1. Better health and social care outcomes
    • Safer healthcare environment
    • Enabling self-management
    • Fostering innovation and research
  2. A better experience of health and social care for citizens
    • Reducing secondary impacts of ill-health patients and their carers
    • Fewer digital boundaries between health and care services
    • Increased access to their data and more transparency on how it isused.
  3. A better experience for staff
    • Increased confidence with digital technology
    • Accessible and secure electronic records
    • Improved efficient working practices
  4. Affordable health and care services
    • Robust investment management
    • Effective change management
    • Standards based environment

Paul Allen, Director of Facilities & eHealth, says in a foreword to the 28-page strategy: “This document describes how NHS Grampian and partners will exploit digital technology to improve health and care, to enable staff to work to the best of their abilities and to support financial sustainability.

“This strategy is an evolving document and the intention is that it will keep pace with clinical need and digital technology advances; we will continually use the opportunities for innovation and transformation that digital technology offers.

“The Digital Health and Care strategy sets out a roadmap for the next five years for how we will adopt new ways of working through the implementation of new technology. This will be challenging. However, digital technology plays a significant part in supporting the NHS Grampian Clinical Strategy and it will enable us to deliver high quality, safe, effective and person centred services.”