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Innovation can play key role in Scotlands fight to reduce pandemic of frailty Header Template

Innovation can play key role in Scotland’s fight to reduce ‘pandemic of frailty’

6 minutes
Posted: 12-February-2024

InnoScot Health Innovation Manager Frances Ramsay reflects on fresh opportunities

Scotland must leverage innovative solutions and do more with less amid claims of an epidemic of frailty that has been accelerated by the pandemic.

Dawn Skelton, Professor of Ageing and Health at Glasgow Caledonian University recently spoke of her belief that the social restrictions of successive lockdowns had contributed to a steep rise in frailty.

However, while she noted that the NHS Scotland workforce is “seeking solutions” with falls and fractures among older adults "on the increase quite considerably,” InnoScot Health believes that with the right support, staff determination can be channelled into effective, lasting innovation.

Professor Skelton said of NHS Scotland’s 160,000-strong workforce: “In their working day, they live and breathe the increase in frailty of older people three years on from that first prolonged lockdown.

“The continued shielding, lack of routine, long-term condition management and social isolation have had a huge effect on older people’s physical function and the ability to maintain independent living.

“This, coupled with the considerable staffing issues across health and social care, mean that services are now struggling with a rehabilitation pandemic.”

The answer must be innovative new ideas generated by those very staff who know the issues inside out and have the knowledge and experience to identify the correct solutions.

Professor Skelton called for “proper, effective interventions” – and we at InnoScot Health believe that a lot of those already exist, but more are needed during this vital time of recovery and reform and must be carefully integrated where they can be most effective.

With approximately 35 per cent of the population over 65 identified as mildly frail, 15 per cent moderately frail, and five per cent severely frail, we must urgently accelerate dedicated frailty-targeting innovation.

There are opportunities alongside the challenges – not only to make lives better, but also to realise time and cost savings that can then be redeployed back into the NHS.

In 2022, a survey of the NHS Scotland workforce was conducted independently on behalf of InnoScot Health, finding that remote monitoring was seen as a key area of ongoing innovation for 86% of staff.

Last year, Inhealthcare partnered with NHS Scotland to scale up remote monitoring pathways including blood pressure monitoring, hypertension, and chronic pain management as part of NHS Scotland’s Connect Me programme, allowing patients to interact and communicate with healthcare professionals through the use of mobile apps, text messages, and automated phone calls.

With the larger roll out underpinned by Inhealthcare’s digital health platform, it is expected that more patients will be able to self-manage their health needs safely and confidently at home and spend less time travelling to appointments.

Increasingly, the technology can provide a range of remote benefits – from monitoring the effects of starting and stopping treatments, to providing important notifications and reminders, as well as offering advice and support.

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InnoScot Health offers the opportunity for health and social care professionals to submit those ideas for new and innovative approaches to frailty – whether that be concept, technology, device, or service.

Frances Ramsay, Innovation Manager for the West of Scotland, InnoScot Health

Like all effective technologies though, they work best when human management and interaction is placed to the fore.

Likewise, NHS Scotland can be enhanced by technological breakthroughs, but they will remain supplementary to human skill and ingenuity.

Workforce innovators have the power to maximise limited NHS Scotland resources by targeting simple or complex ideas that make best use of what they already have in abundance – insight and experience.

Furthermore, while patients are reaping the benefits of innovation, it requires staff who understand the issues first-hand for it to be embedded properly.

Working in partnership with NHS Scotland for the past 20 years, InnoScot Health is encouraging those knowledgeable staff to help tackle the country’s growing frailty problem.

The formal health service partner aims to tap into their expertise and together help to develop new innovations that can help people live better in later life or cope with long-term health conditions.

InnoScot Health’s frailty innovation call supports NHS Scotland innovators from any NHS health board and any role or medical discipline and encourages them to get in touch with their ideas.

We believe that our call to health and social care professionals is timely with innovation representing true empowerment for those who need it most.

Fundamentally, it is all about improving quality of life while supporting NHS Scotland adapt to changing demographics, demand for services, and current challenges.

InnoScot Health offers the opportunity for health and social care professionals to submit those ideas for new and innovative approaches to frailty – whether that be concept, technology, device, or service.

The package of support for staff with ideas to support NHS Scotland includes up to £25,000 of seed funding, regulatory support, project management, and our innovation expertise.

Our frailty innovation call is open to anyone working across NHS Scotland and harnesses the wide spectrum of our talented health and social care professionals.

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Frailty Innovation Call

InnoScot Health is seeking ideas from health and social care professionals that can help transform the quality of life for people living with frailty, while helping NHS Scotland adapt to changing demographics and increase in service use as people become frailer.

Ideas may range from wearable tech that could predict falls in vulnerable people, assistive technology to make daily life or a specific task easier, a device or tool to help people self-manage their condition or diagnostic devices to simplify home monitoring of conditions.


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InnoScot Health works in partnership with NHS Scotland to identify, protect, develop and commercialise new innovations from healthcare professionals. Registered Number: SC 236303. Registered address: 272 Bath Street, Glasgow, G2 4JR
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