Outdated IT systems, reluctance to change and confusion over data sharing are preventing innovation in the NHS, finds a Parliamentary Committee


The Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee inquiry has identified a number of barriers that prevent the NHS from developing and adopting new, cutting-edge technology.

In a report, which it will send to Scottish Government, the Committee highlights how a reluctance to adopt new ways of working, coupled with multiple, outdated IT systems that are often incompatible, remain a major obstacle for change.

MSPs are calling for the Scottish Government to step in and take ownership to remove these barriers and free up opportunities for the NHS to innovate and lead in the delivery of health and social care in Scotland.

Believing there are opportunities to radically develop the way technology is used across the NHS and social care, Convener, Lewis Macdonald MSP, 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”.

Key findings of the inquiry include:

  • Appropriate use of technology provides an opportunity to radically develop the way NHS and social care services are delivered
  • NHS is reluctant to adopt new ways of working with innovation not actively encouraged
  • Many IT systems are outdated and do not interact well with other systems
  • IT and technology adoption decisions are taken at individual Board level and success varies across Scotland
  • Adoption of new technology and innovation is often reliant on clinicians having a personal interest in the change
  • A number of services should be efficiently and effectively delivered centrally on a "once for Scotland" basis
  • Healthcare professionals want timely access to relevant health records but misunderstandings of data protection regulations is preventing appropriate data sharing.
  • Wearable technology that monitors vital statistics is already popular with the public and could be used by healthcare professionals to collect data in a convenient, efficient and effective manner.

Further information about the technology and innovation inquiry is available here.

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