In May we held a presentation evening at the Scottish Parliament on the theme ‘Prevention in action - effecting digital change. The event, hosted by Stuart McMillan MSP, brought together influential organisations and individuals to share the latest progress around early detection and prevention technology within the health and social care sector.
The debate prompted some interesting feedback from delegates, with all agreeing that there is a greater need for prevention than reactive services. It’s clear that by monitoring frailty indicators remotely, emergency care and hospital admissions can be greatly reduced. Suggestions that AI does have the potential to improve citizen wellbeing and enable timely interventions was unanimous; and there is confidence in AI as a valuable tool to assist with prevention, but it’s not going to be a quick solution, or ‘one size fits all’ approach.
When asked how they thought cost and technological barriers, to adopting prevention solutions, can be overcome, we had several responses:
“You need to educate and raise awareness to politician’s, the public and professionals on what are the benefits and why. Help address the culture - the way things are always done.”
“National strategy around digital health and care needs to mature. Central and local Government strategies are not aligned and standards around data ownership and system integration need establishing.”
“It is local Government that can really affect current change in this area, they need to be persuaded that redirecting funding into prevention rather than responsive services is cost effective and appropriate. The pressures on NHS budgets make it difficult to upstream funding towards meeting a preventative priority - despite it making so much sense.”
“When you evidence the value in terms of outcomes the case is self-evident that benefits outweigh barriers.”
Prevention versus reaction:
“Prevention costs considerably less than cure. A change of mind set and business courage is needed to focus on outcomes, be they for individuals in the community, local authorities, health boards and Government. True budget integration and trust are required. Care Providers currently do not have time to consider preventative measures in the wholly task-driven approach to service delivery by the commissioners.”
“The current reactive system cannot be overturned quickly. The shift from analogue to digital will help enable a different approach.”
“The preventative approach is a balance between 'hearts and minds' and evidence - staff and organisations are squeezed by current performance KPIs and SG targets - so you always get what you count. Until we nationally change what we count - we will always be faced with the same issues - so as long as we focus on reduced bed days, we will be limited in how much real prevention we can undertake.”
Speaking after the event, Stuart McMillan said:
“There’s no doubt that prevention is better than a cure, and it’s crucial that HSCPs are able to make use of management systems that enable them to provide high-quality care right from the start, leading to cost savings and them being more efficient.
“Ultimately though, it’s in the interests of everyone for our health and social care sector to be focused on early detection and prevention. HAS Technology is helping us do that, so I’m grateful to them and all the representative organisations in attendance for sharing their innovations and ideas at Holyrood.”