NHS Scotland is set to transform the health of the local population with new digital technologies and patient pathways thanks to the launch of a collaboration between NHS, university and industry partners.

NHS Golden Jubilee’s national Centre for Sustainable Delivery, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, University of Glasgow, AstraZeneca UK and Lenus Health have all signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which aims to improve the health of the Scottish population and expand opportunities for clinical research.

Professor Iain McInnes, University of Glasgow vice principal, said: “We are delighted to be signing this important MoU, which represents a strengthening of the vital triple helix partnership between research, industry and the NHS.

“Using the world-changing research carried out at the University of Glasgow, we will work together with AstraZeneca and the NHS in Scotland with the aim to deliver more high calibre trials and ultimately improve patient care.”

Transforming healthcare services

Professor Jann Gardner, chief executive of NHS Golden Jubilee, said: “The national Centre for Sustainable Delivery at NHS Golden Jubilee has been set up specifically to renew and transform healthcare services across NHS Scotland and is uniquely positioned to deliver transformation programmes at scale through the Accelerated National Innovation Adoption pathway.

“This collaboration provides opportunities to improve patient care, employ new technologies and medicines, while addressing the impact of health inequalities and social barriers to provide a more sustainable future healthcare system.”

The new partnership aims to:

  • Deliver NHS transformation by trialling new patient pathways and digital technologies to support earlier diagnosis and treatment
  • Enable large-scale clinical trials and studies in Scotland
  • Gather evidence to assess the effectiveness of the new clinical management pathways established
  • Scale up the successful pathways across NHS Scotland.

Paul McGinness, chief executive officer at Lenus Health, said: “As the exclusive digital partner of this unique agreement, we are delighted to be part of a new way of working that will enable innovations to be developed and implemented rapidly at scale in Scotland and across the NHS.”

He continued: “By joining up data across clinical pathways and giving patients tools to engage with their health services, providers can significantly improve outcomes and enable more personalised healthcare.

“Not only will this agreement help expand these benefits at scale, but the commitment to the Scottish digital health and artificial intelligence ecosystem will also be beneficial to the local economy by encouraging investment in the technology sector and generating jobs.”

Digital patient pathways

The initial focus is on long-term conditions and priorities set by the Scottish government. The Optimised Pathway for Early Identification of Heart Failure in the Community (OPERA) was trialled during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the digital patient pathway is now the first project being considered for roll-out across NHS Scotland.

OPERA is a collaboration between AstraZeneca UK, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, University of Glasgow, Lenus Health and West of Scotland Innovation teams. During the trial, patients were able to attend a single clinic appointment for a number of tests. As a result, the waiting list for heart failure diagnostic tests fell from over 12 months to just six weeks.

Professor Julie Brittenden, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s director of research and innovation said: “We are already seeing great success in our Covid recovery, with a growth in the number of transformative studies involving novel medicines, devices, digital-enabled technologies and artificial intelligence.

“This collaboration further adds to the opportunity to undertake high-quality research and innovation projects such as OPERA, which will directly impact on and improve patient-centred care.”