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Scottish Charity Launches Digital Health Scheme

Chloe Henderson


Scottish mental health charity Birchwood Highland is launching an innovative scheme to support people with mental health in remote and rural areas.

Starting in Easter Ross, Lochaber, and remote areas around Inverness, the system is being developed in collaboration with digital health company, Openbrolly, which specialises in the use of internet for communication.

The scheme is designed to overcome the challenges and barriers presented to mental care by the geography and topography of the highlands. Users will be able to seek support and other services through a video link, share correspondence they require assistance with and access their personal support plan documents.

Linda Birnie, the community services manager at Birchwood Highland, said that the service is an innovative way to improve support using new technology.

“This new system offers an immediate personal connection over distance rather than someone having to wait for a visit while a worker travels to their home, so individuals may get more value from the support time.” She added: “The system can be blended with traditional visits to cover a full range of preferred support requirements.”

The system will use Openbrolly’s health and social care software platform, which has been successfully developed for a range of health and social care organisations, providing support to people living with long-term conditions.

David Sim, the director to Openbrolly said:

“There is a push, particularly in Scotland, to overcome barriers caused by distance and limited resources and put people in control of the care they receive.

“Technology is part of the solution and enables a level of care that would be impossible to deliver using traditional methods.”

Digital technology is playing an increasing vital role in the transformation of health services in Scotland.

The Scottish Government and NHS Scotland launched an eHealth Strategy 2014-2017 committing to “empowering both citizens and professionals through better digital services and information.”

They are currently in the process of updating the strategy for a re-release later this year.

NHS Scotland has also implemented a number of digital services targeting mental health and wellbeing, including Aye Mind, a digital toolkit and online resource for young people aged 13 to 21.

In their eHealth Strategy Shona Robinson, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport, said that the Scottish Government’s vision was to ensure that everyone is able to live longer and healthier lives by 2020, by introducing and improving digital healthcare services.

“By 2020 I anticipate that eHealth will be making a truly transformational contribution to the way health and care professionals work and to how patients access safer, more person-centred and more effective health and care services.”

Chloe Henderson

Staff Writer - DIGIT

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