The Scottish Government’s Digital Health and Social Care Strategy sets out a bold vision for how technology can support person-centered care, and sets out to maximise the opportunities of digital technology to help improve the health and wellbeing of people in Scotland. As part of this strategy, the Government has an ambitious plan to develop a National Digital Platform through which real-time data and information from health and care records are linked and available to those who need them - clinicians, care workers and citizens.
As part of the overall strategy, the Scottish Government was also keen to showcase the “art of the possible” and fund digital exemplars to demonstrate what the future of health and care could look like if citizens could access and use data to lead healthier lives.
Six digital innovative technologies were awarded £30,000 each as part of a fund to help people in Scotland lead healthier lives and have more control over their health and care. As well as funding, the grantees were supported with a non-financial support package which included marketing, comms, and service design. We brought the cohort together as a group for shared learning and peer to peer support three times throughout the programme.
The six grantees were;
- Pharmatics, CareAI: Used the funding to co-produce a prototype of their CareAI app which looks to improve the lives of those living with COPD by using artificial intelligence to determine when people are likely to deteriorate with their illness.
- Px Healthcare, Owise: Ran a series of co-design activities and developed a new version of their application for those living with prostate cancer, using patient-reported data to improve clinical outcomes and the quality of patients’ lives.
- University of Salford, Fan Fit: Developed a new version of their fitness app for Rangers FC fans and to run a series of competitions to encourage football fans in Glasgow to become more active.
- Cognihealth, Cognicare: Developed new features and functionality within their personalised AI-powered app which aims to support carers of those with dementia. They also carried out a piece of research to help them shape their future plans for the product.
- NquiringMinds, Careteam PA: Developed new features for their platform to enable a cared-for person to control their own care data and empowers them to selectively and securely share their health information with formal and informal carers.
- University of Edinburgh: Developed an interactive mobile app called Helping Hand to support parents and carers of children going through the autism diagnosis pathway.
At the end of the programme, all grantees pitched for follow- on- funding of £60,000 to continue working on their projects. The two winners of the Healthier Lives Data Fund Prize were chosen by a panel of judges in Scotland. The funding was awarded to Px Healthcare and Pharmatics to continue their work in prostate cancer and COPD respectively.
The Healthier Lives Data Fund helped us to understand the barriers and enablers in implementing successful digital health products within the Scottish health landscape. In particular, it highlighted the challenge in accessing health data, something which is essential in making these products successful both for the development and testing the AI algorithms that underpin them and for measuring the clinical effectiveness of the interventions. This programme highlighted the importance of coproduction when developing products of this kind, and the need to go beyond traditional methods of engagement to reach service users and people with lived experience whose input into the design of digital health products is essential if they are to be useful and used.