Ambulances in £3.5 million Telehealth Boost

 Tuesday 3 February 2015

The Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) is investing £3.5 million in the first phase of a programme to upgrade the technology on emergency ambulances as part of its long-term strategy to deliver clinically focused, high quality care to patients.

Funded by the Scottish Government, the programme will replace existing technology with new state of the art information hardware and software systems.

The first phase of the programme will provide a new communications hub in ambulances, along with ruggedized tablets in front and rear, used for the input, display and transmission of patient and incident information.

It will create the necessary platform for enhanced clinical software and telehealth capabilities that will be delivered in the second phase of the programme in 2016/17. These will include a video link capability that may be used for patient consultations and diagnostic devices capable of providing additional information about a patient’s medical condition.

The Telehealth Programme is integral to the Scottish Ambulance Service’s new strategic framework “Towards 2020: Taking Care to the Patient”, which seeks to improve care for patients by bringing appropriate aspects of urgent or unscheduled care closer to them in their home or local community.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said:
“The Scottish Government encourages increased use of technology in realising our 2020 Vision for safe, effective and integrated health and social care for Scotland.
“The Scottish Ambulance Service provides a critical service where having the right information at the right time is vital. This investment will enable better mobile care, allowing the ambulance service to bring more care to patients and increase the number of patients treated at the scene before referring on to appropriate health or social care service, where required.”

Speaking at their annual strategic development conference, Scottish Ambulance Service Chief Executive, Pauline Howie, said:
“As we deliver our strategy, more treatment pathways will be integrated with the wider NHS and social services to provide the best possible care in the most appropriate environment.

“The investment in new technology for emergency ambulances will ultimately widen the range of diagnostics that can be performed out of hospital and connect patients to clinical consultations. This will allow the patient to be treated safely in the community, where appropriate, reducing unnecessary admissions and the need for a long journeys to hospital.”

A contract to supply and install the new technology in over 500 emergency ambulance vehicles across Scotland has been awarded to Terrafix Limited who will commence work immediately, completing the project in early 2016.