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Poor NHS IT systems affecting patient care, say ministers

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Patients are missing out on better care and treatment because of shortfalls in NHS computing systems, MSPs have said.

The Scottish Government must address the roll-out of “telehealth” schemes and any resistance from medical staff in using technology, according to a report by Holyrood’s Health Committee.

It criticises the slow and inconsistent provision of clinical portals and telehealth over the last decade and says better safeguards are needed in patient privacy if Scotland is to become the world leader in electronic health.

A clinical portal is a computer software system that allows clinicians and GPs to access medical data on a patient anywhere in Scotland.

Committee convener Christine Grahame said: “If used effectively and efficiently, technology such as clinical portals and telehealth could make a huge difference to the quality of care and treatment patients receive across Scotland.

“It also has the potential to release much-needed resources in these economically difficult times for front-line patient services.

“However, our committee report reveals that the Scottish Government has some serious work to do in encouraging health boards to use and evaluate this technology.

“We hope the Government will act on our recommendations regarding patient rights, professional standards, funding and staff training by 2014 at the latest.”

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