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NHS Scotland to transform population health through digital technologies

A collaboration between NHS Scotland, industry partners and academia aims to launch large-scale programmes to improve population health in the country through digital technologies and new patient pathways

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, NHS Golden Jubilee’s national centre for sustainability delivery, the University of Glasgow, AstraZeneca UK and Lenus Health have partnered to deliver several projects, including the use of digital technologies, to improve Scotland’s population health.

The organisations have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to test new patient pathways and digital technologies to enable earlier treatment and diagnosis, large-scale clinical trials, and collect evidence to assess how effective the new pathways are.

The aim is to quickly scale up successful pathways, giving all patients in the country living with chronic conditions an opportunity to enrol in the trials.

One of the projects being considered for national roll-out is a digital patient pathway called Optimising a Digital Diagnostic Pathway for Heart Failure in the Community (Opera).

The Opera pathway was trialled during the coronavirus pandemic, whereby patients attended a single clinic appointment where they underwent a number of tests, reducing the waiting list for heart failure diagnostic tests from more than 12 months to six weeks.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s director of research and innovation, Julie Brittenden, said the health board was already seeing “great success in our Covid recovery, with a growth in the number of transformative studies involving novel medicines, devices, digitally enabled technologies and artificial intelligence”.

“This collaboration further adds to the opportunity to undertake high-quality research and innovation projects such as Opera, which will directly impact on and improve patient-centred care,” she said.

Following the coronavirus pandemic, NHS Scotland set out a recovery plan, which included ensuring digital choices are always available for patients, and scaling up and accelerating digital technology adoption in the NHS.

Lenus Health is the collaboration’s digital partner, whose CEO Paul McGinness said the hope was that the project would enable new innovations being implemented quickly across Scotland.

“Not only will this agreement help expand these benefits at scale, but the commitment to the Scottish digital health and artificial intelligence ecosystem will also be beneficial to the local economy by encouraging investment in the technology sector and generating jobs,” he said.

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