NHS Scotland staff slow to take up digital

Survey by NHS Education for Scotland shows minority of workers are using digital health technologies

Staff in NHS Scotland are not making full use of digital technology in their work, with fewer than half using any type on a regular basis.

Report coverThe claim comes in a new report, Supporting Scotland’s Workforce – Technology Enabled Care Research, from NHS Education for Scotland (NES), based on a survey of 635 individuals working in primary, secondary and community care services.

Six technologies featured in the survey. Telecare was used at some point by just short of half of respondents (49%), and health and care applications by 29%, and the figures were even lower for telecoaching, online self-management, teleconsultation and home and mobile health monitoring.

The main reasons highlighted for not using technology included a lack of knowledge and skills, workplace availability and perceived lack of opportunities. However, there was enthusiasm for learning how to improve knowledge, skills and confidence and to understand the benefits.

Only 2% of the respondents had no interest in using technology enabled care resources.

The report makes a number of recommendations, including the staging of a national awareness raising programme and promotion of digital technologies for health and care. This would be accompanied by the development of an online learning resource and face-to-face learning networks.

New ethos needed

Other proposed measures include a national drive to alleviate concerns around the use of the technology, organisational partnerships, the deployment of a digital infrastructure and support for a ‘digital by default’ ethos.

Dorothy Wright, NES workforce director said: “Recent years have seen a surge in the availability of accessible and real time health and wellbeing technology. They can help people manage their own health better, stay safely at home for longer and transform the delivery of high quality health and care services.

“It is important that people are supported by a knowledgeable and skilled workforce who can work confidently with technology to support health, wellbeing, choice and independence. These skills will support Scotland’s ambitions for digital transformation of health and care services to help improve the health, care and wellbeing outcomes for the citizens of Scotland.”