One in four Scots unwilling to use digital means for health consultations

Written by Liam Kirkaldy and Sam Trendall on 6 September 2019 in News
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Although most Scottish citizens believe IoT and smart technology will improve healthcare delivery, many do not want to use bots, conferencing, or web chat

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Although a vast majority of Scots believe the use of internet of things and smart technologies will improve healthcare delivery, a quarter of citizens – including one in three Highlanders – are not willing to use any digital means to engage with a health professional.

A survey of 2,000 Scots, commissioned by Capita for the Scottish Wide Area Network (SWAN), found that 84% said their decision on where to live would be influenced by access to digital healthcare services, such as video appointments with a GP.

It found 47% would use a video link to speak to a healthcare professional, 20% would use a virtual reality nurse or doctor, and 17% would use a smart assistant or smart speaker.


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But while 88% of respondents said they believed IoT and smart technologies will enhance healthcare provision, 25% of all Scottish citizens would not use digital technology at all to contact a healthcare professional, rising to 34% in the Highlands.

The survey found 62% would like to use smart devices, 46% smart furniture, 36% an ingestible pill (medication with a tiny sensor that can transmit data to a healthcare professional), and 22% would use a nursing robot.

NHS Highland innovation consultant Alan Whiteside said: “NHS Highland is keen to explore the clinical and non-clinical applications from enabling technologies – but research shows expectations around what technology can deliver are far lower in the region than the national average. This is not surprising, considering that in some Highland areas, residents struggle to even get 2G network reception.”

He added: “However, through IoT and smart devices, we can identify deterioration in health earlier which helps shift healthcare delivery from being infrequent and reactive to frequent and preventative. As technology continues to develop, we have a great opportunity to develop disruptive healthcare services in the Highlands that could also help enhance healthcare in other regions of Scotland.”

The SWAN programme was set up to establish a single shared network and common ICT infrastructure across Scotland’s entire public sector.

 

About the author

Liam Kirkaldy is online editor at PublicTechnology sister publication Holyrood, where a version of this story first appeared. He tweets as @HolyroodLiam.

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