Dr Scott Cunningham, University of Dundee Technical Consultant

Written by Alan Robertson on 22 September 2015 in Feature

For the next 100 days, Connect will be running through our Tech 100 for 2015, profiling the key figures driving the digital agenda in Scotland. Today's we hear from Dr Scott Cunningham, technical lead for My Diabetes My Way

Dr Scott G Cunningham

Job Title/Organisation: Technical Consultant, University of Dundee

What does your role involve?

I have more than 15 years of experience in software architecture design, development and project management within healthcare. I am technical lead for NHS Scotland’s shared electronic record for diabetes: SCI Diabetes Collaboration (SCI-DC). This system has been hugely influential in the understanding of diabetes and received an award for “Excellence in Major Healthcare IT Development” at the eHealth Insider Awards in 2011.

I have an active research interest in the patient-focused aspects of health informatics and led the development of NHS Scotland’s patient website My Diabetes My Way. This award-winning website (“Award for Education and Self-management”, Diabetes UK Annual Professional Conference, 2015; “Best initiative supporting self-care”, Quality in Care Diabetes, 2013) allows patients across Scotland direct access to their diabetes record. I, and my team, have a track record of taking research development grants to the level of fully integrated national services.

What do you consider to be the most imminent challenge in your line of work?

While there is currently a significant focus on digital public services and several good services already exist, levels of activity remain low amongst target groups. There are over 275,000 people with diabetes in Scotland, yet only just over 6,500 have accessed their records online.

Much of this is due to limited awareness of this service, but digital literacy factors also play a significant role. We therefore have challenges engaging the clinical community to signpost potential users towards resources that may benefit them and providing these users with the skills they need to use these resources effectively.

What has been the most rewarding piece of work you've undertaken?

Designing, developing and implementing the My Diabetes My Way electronic Personal Health Record has proven to be one of the most demanding and rewarding pieces of work undertaken. There have been a number of challenges along the way, but some of the feedback we have received has shown it to be completely worthwhile as it is helping people to more effectively manage their diabetes and live longer, healthier lives.

How can Scotland bridge the digital skills gap?

Not really my area, but in the public sector, this could perhaps be facilitated through compulsory Continued Professional Development training with follow-up eLearning courses to assess continued engagement and development.

Which new technology excites you the most?

With the recent developments in smartphone apps, wearable technologies and remote monitors there is massive potential to link personal data to routine collected clinical data. Many will be aware of “big data” analytics, but these devices have the potential to contribute a significant volume of new information. How these data are collated, linked and interpreted for the benefit of the end-user is an area of great potential.

What's your favourite app and why?

Working in technology means that there is a lot of time sat in front of a computer. I have had a FitBit band for nearly two years and am on the verge of becoming addicted to it. There’s nothing like seeing your friends overtake you on the leaderboard to make you think about climbing a Munro or two!

What, for you, will 2016 be the year of from a technology/digital standpoint?

With a new Scottish Government strategy for patient-accessible records in development, I expect that 2016 will be the year that things really take off. This may include new services offering access to a wider spread of long-term conditions and key services to make all of our lives easier, such as appointment booking, prescription ordering and virtual consultations.

Find out who else features in our Tech 100, which is being done in association with Gamma, by visiting our website.

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