If there is a common message from the European events on eHealth that I have attended recently, it is that patients are increasingly expecting to have more say in their personal healthcare, with the help of digital tools.

Societal and technological developments are creating an increasing pressure to move towards more extensive patient empowerment. As part of that process, governments are expected to provide reliable digital personalised health and wellbeing information. Such information is essential for effective self-management and health improvement by citizens.

In Scotland, citizens that are digitally active are seen as central to effective, integrated health and social care. The Scottish Government and National Health Service Scotland have had a national eHealth Strategy in place for many years. As part of its implementation, we are digitally strengthening the interaction between patients/citizens and the health and social care services.

To ensure we make substantial progress with patient-facing health IT developments, we’re currently taking a multi-track strategic approach in Scotland:

  • We’re aiming to make personalised health information (including a summarised electronic patient record) and baseline services available to each citizen by 2020. In the meantime, our NHS24 and NHS Inform websites will soon be refreshed to improve the on-line self-care guides and information we’re already providing. This is happening in close cooperation with patient organisations.

  • We’re consolidating and extending our portfolio of comprehensive patient platforms for chronic conditions such as PatientView and MyDiabetesMyWay. These provide digital tools for patients with conditions which best lend themselves to effective self-management and co-production with clinicians.

  • We’re promoting the development of Primary Care Digital Services for patients by investing £6m into a Digital Services Development Fund over the next three years.

Eventually, we are hoping to bring these strands together through a patient portal.

Realising this approach means bringing people together. Scotland has 14 territorial health boards, 7 special health boards, 32 local authorities and 996 General Practices. These all have a role to play in implementing our national strategy on a regional or local basis for the benefit of 5.3 million citizens.