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Grant Reilly


21st November 2023


New app-based service to support delivery of best health and care in Scotland gets go ahead

A new app-based service is to be delivered by Healthcare Improvement Scotland as a one-stop shop to support the best clinical and care decision-making across health and social care in Scotland. The service will be the first of its kind in the UK and will mark the next stage of the development and roll-out of the Right Decision Service (RDS).

It is estimated that up to 20% of all healthcare is of no value to the people receiving it*. In part, this is because current guidelines and tools to support care exist in a variety of locations, which makes it difficult for health and care professionals to easily access the best and most up-to-date advice and tools. RDS uses digital platforms to put evidence-based tools into the hands of those delivering care, at the time they need it.

There is a pilot version of RDS that makes this support available by linking various apps and online tools – providing up-to-date clinical guidelines, tools and other resources for health and care professionals to deliver safe, timely and person-centred care. Additional funding allows RDS to create one app that will bring the various apps and tools can be brought together on one site.

Alongside the additional funding of over £525,000 from Scottish Government, Healthcare Improvement Scotland will take on leadership of RDS, passing ownership from the Digital Health & Care Innovation Centre, which has supported RDS from its early innovation stages.

Currently, 11 NHS boards, 6 health and social care partnerships, 4 national NHS boards, and 3 national social care organisations, are using the Right Decision Service to deliver decision support tools to their staff. Between 1 January and mid-December 2022, RDS had 1,005,865 unique users and 6.5 million page views.

A consultation in early 2023 confirmed that these tools save time, improve use of available resource, empower staff to deliver safer, more consistent care, and strengthen the focus on outcomes that matter to the person. An earlier pilot of RDS in primary care electronic health record systems in 2021-22 found that 82% of clinicians using RDS found it helpful in identifying and mitigating clinical risk to patients.

Healthcare Improvement Scotland will now develop a timeline for the next phase of development.

Health Secretary, Michael Matheson, said:

“This is a groundbreaking example of a digital service that has been developed and piloted with our partners Digital Health and Care Innovation Centre (DHI) through to delivery. The programme is now transitioning into a national service in support of our workforce to be led by a national NHS Board (HIS) and highlights the success of our collaborative approach.

“I’d like to thank all of those involved in the development of the Right Decision Service and look forward to our health and care workforce being able to make greater use of decision support tools.” “I’d like to thank all those involved in the development of the Right Decision Service and look forward to the programmes future success.”

Safia Qureshi, Director of Evidence & Digital, Healthcare Improvement Scotland, comments:

"We are delighted that the Right Decision Service will be joining us, as it presents a unique opportunity to deliver our advice and guidance at the point of care. This will significantly benefit patient safety, making it easier for health and care professionals to access the information they need to make the right decisions, at the right time. We hope that the future development of the Right Decision Service will have a significant, positive impact for health and care staff, freeing up more of their time and using resources available to them as efficiently as possible.

"I would also like to thank the Digital Health & Care Innovation Centre for their outstanding work in establishing this invaluable service. We are really excited to embark on this exciting project together.”

Dr Ann Wales, Programme Lead for Knowledge and Decision Support, Digital Health & Care Innovation Centre (DHI), said:  

“The Once for Scotland Right Decisions app is a step-change in support for evidence-based health and social care decisions. It harnesses the power of evidence and technology to bring decision-making tools to the fingertips of health and social care practitioners. It frees up practitioner time to care, enables safer, more consistent care and support across Scotland, and strengthens the focus on individuals’ needs.

“I am hugely grateful to the Digital Health & Care Innovation Centre for steering and championing the Right Decision Service through its early stages of development. I’m delighted that the service is now moving fully into the NHS with leadership from Healthcare Improvement Scotland. This will consolidate the role of the Right Decision Service as a driving force for evidence-based practice and improvement across Scotland.”

Professor George Crooks OBE, Chief Executive Officer, Digital Health & Care Innovation Centre (DHI), said:

“The transfer of the Right Decision service from DHI into Healthcare Improvement Scotland, where it will continue to flourish and add increasing value to the delivery of high quality, safe health and care services for the people of Scotland, demonstrates how a national innovation centre can support, nurture and grow a new digital service to the point where it can successfully move to national adoption and scale. DHI is a national asset that will continue to support the people of Scotland and importantly those charged with delivering health and care services to access world-class digital health and care solutions.”

To access the Right Decision Service and find out more, go to:

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Note to editors:

*The figure comes from the Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) which has estimated that up to 20% of all healthcare is of no value to the people receiving it.

From 2022-2025, the Scottish Government is funding a national roll-out of the decision support programme, to embed decision support as the norm in the day-to-day decisions that practitioners and citizens make about health and care.

Right Decision Service tools put evidence into the hands of staff and the public by working through day-to-day technology, including web and mobile apps, and embedding in electronic care systems. The service also delivers shared decision-making tools which empower the public to participate in choices about their health and care.

Right Decision Service tools are getting evidence into action to help address the unprecedented pressures on health and social care services and to drive new sustainable models of care. Examples include:

  • Decision support web and mobile apps to help manage patient flow in adult and paediatric unscheduled care and to support appropriate and timely escalation of residents in care homes
  • Evidence-based prescribing safety alerts embedded in primary care electronic health record systems, to prevent medicines-related adverse events and avoidable hospital admissions
  • A web and mobile toolkit for assessment and management of common healthcare issues in care homes and care at home services. This supports integrated working across health and social care teams through structured communication in a shared language.

The purpose of Healthcare Improvement Scotland is to enable the people of Scotland to experience the best quality of health and social care. The organisation includes The Improvement Hub (ihub), Community Engagement, the Scottish Health Technologies Group, the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) and the Scottish Medicines Consortium.

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