Blog: What are Scottish citizens’ expectations of the IoT in healthcare?

13 September 2019

Capita, on behalf of the Scottish Wide Area Network (SWAN), has recently launched the first in a series of three reports into the digitisation of public services in Scotland – beginning with healthcare. 

The research comes at a time when digital transformation is increasingly recognised as playing a key role in improving how public services are delivered; in particular, it explores expectations around the Internet of Things (IoT), and ‘smart’ and connected technologies. Two later reports will look at the digitisation of local government services and education.

When it comes to healthcare, advances in technology are not only creating new ways of connecting citizens with clinical services, like a video appointment with a GP, but can even improve patient outcomes – for instance, ‘smart’ furniture that encourages more movement. For the one million people in Scotland living in remote, rural, and hard-to-reach areas, these innovations could prove invaluable.

With 22 Scottish NHS boards, 278 general and community hospitals, and 944 GP practices* – delivering healthcare to the population of Scotland is a complex task. We asked 2,000 Scottish citizens for their thoughts on how the IoT, smart and connected technologies will impact health services. The key findings include:

  • 88 per cent believe the IoT and smart technologies will enhance healthcare delivery in Scotland
  • 84 per cent said digital access to healthcare (e.g. online chat with a health professional, video appointment with a GP) is important to where they choose to live
  • 88 per cent believe connected/smart technology will enhance the care of vulnerable or elderly people

However, while the general sentiment was of one of positivity, the research did reveal that not all areas of Scotland have the same expectations – with the Highlands showing more reticence towards the IoT and connected technologies. In the report, we delve into the possible reasons behind these geographical variances. Alan Whiteside, an Innovation Consultant for the R&D & Innovation Department, NHS Highland, discusses the potential of the IoT to help improve health and wellness among residents, as well as offering unique insight into the hurdles the IoT faces in the Highlands.

One of these hurdles is achieving universal connectivity, a challenge given Scotland’s unique topography. With a robust and future-proof network in place to power smart devices and the IoT with a high degree of fast and reliable connectivity, connected healthcare can become a reality for everyone in Scotland.

* Current Facts NHS Scotland, and GP Workforce and practice list sizes 2008–2018, Information Services Division, 11th Dec 2018



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