IT in healthcare

NHS Scotland has more time for patients thanks to mobile technology

Caroline Baldwin

NHS doctors and nurses are using the latest mobile technology across Scotland to speed up admin tasks and spend more time with patients.

A £1m Scottish Government fund has been used to purchase a range of technologies, including digital pens, tablets, iPads and mobile devices.

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The use of these devices allows community-based staff to access important patient information and update patient records electronically. This reduces the amount of time spent on administration, freeing up time for staff to spend with patients.

The NHS in the Western Isles of Scotland has been able to spend 50% more time with patients following the roll-out of digital pen technology.

“Technology is invaluable for staff who work in community settings, and I set up this fund to enable these staff to choose what device works best for them,” said health secretary Alex Neil. 

“Traditionally, community nurses had to wait until they returned to the hospital to update patient records, but now they can be updated automatically.”

NHS Scotland technology roll-outs

  • NHS Dumfries and Galloway has adopted similar technology to the Western Isles and is running a pilot with 47 community nursing staff. Efficiencies are already being made.
  • NHS Borders are also planning to introduce digital pens to community nurses. Mobile devices will be deployed to around 20 nurses in the community by the end of March 2014, with a subsequent roll-out to up to 90 staff.
  • A community nursing team in East Dumbartonshire has been using iPads to record information. This has freed up to 10 hours a day across the team, and increased patient safety through not having to transcribe information two or three times.
  • Some members of the rehabilitation team in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde are using iPads in patients’ homes to order equipment and other tasks. The patient can see online what is being ordered for them and when it will arrive. The equipment arrives quicker as the team do not have to go back to the office to order, and this helps the patient in the process of rehabilitation in their home. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is also in the process of implementing a further 20-30 iPads to support rehab services.
  • NHS Lothian has purchased 550 mobile devices, and NHS Ayrshire and Arran has purchased about 100 iPads.
  • NHS Shetland has procured and deployed a mix of iPad and Android tablets to 120 community-based staff.
  • NHS Tayside has deployed mobile devices to more than 100 community nurses to allow them to get familiar with using the devices. They are currently using for email and calendar, while work to deliver mobile MiDIS (a community information system used by several boards) is being completed.
  • NHS Highland is planning to use digital pens to capture data for the Keep Well anticipatory care programme.
  • NHS Fife has more than 20 devices piloting in the community, with a further 50 ready for deployment.

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