MSPs slam Scotland for outdated NHS IT systems

MSPs slam Scotland for outdated NHS IT systemsUK government to fast-track new medical tech for NHS

An inquiry has found outdated IT systems, reluctance to change and data confusion is preventing innovation among NHS organisations.

The Health and Sports Committee of the Scottish Parliament carried out the inquiry and pinpointed that such factors are the barriers that are preventing the NHS from developing and adopting new, cutting-edge technology.

Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) are urging the government to take ownership so as to remove these obstacles and enable the NHS to take up innovation and lead the way in the delivery of health and social care in Scotland.

In the report, which will be sent to the Scottish government, the committee pointed out to reluctance to adopt new ways of working, coupled with multiple, outdated IT systems that are often incompatible, as major obstacles for change.

The inquiry stated that even though appropriate use of technology provides an opportunity to develop the way NHS and social care services are delivered, the NHS is reluctant to adopt new ways of working and it is not actively encouraging innovation.

Even the national systems, including the Key Information Summary and Palliative Care Summary, have been rolled out in a piecemeal fashion and important personnel have not been given access everywhere, the report said.

It said IT and technology adoption decisions are taken at individual board level and success varies across Scotland and that a number of services should be efficiently and effectively delivered centrally on a “once for Scotland” basis. Moreover, adoption of new technology and innovation is often reliant on clinicians who have a personal interest in the change, the report said.

Furthermore, despite healthcare professionals wanting timely access to relevant health records, misunderstandings of data protection regulations is preventing appropriate data-sharing, it said. Healthcare professionals could use wearable technology that monitors vital statistics to collect data in a convenient, efficient and effective manner, the report said.

Cyber Security gets a boost in the field
Why are computer skills vital in the National Health Service?
AI needs to have more trust in healthcare, says Think Tank

Committee convenor Lewis Macdonald said: “When the committee agreed to carry out this inquiry, members expected to investigate different ways where ground-breaking and innovative technologies could make dramatic changes to the way the health and social care sector operates. Instead, we’ve heard how a number of barriers are preventing change from happening.

“The committee wants Scotland to remain a leader in health and social care and to do so we must make sure innovation flourishes. We are asking the Scottish government to be bold and offer strong leadership to tackle these.”

A Scottish government spokesman said: “We welcome this report from the Health and Sport Committee. The findings will be considered in detail, in line with the development of our forthcoming Digital Health & Social Care Strategy.”