Associate Feature: Technology can enhance Parkinson’s care in Scotland
Because everyone who lives with Parkinson’s can experience any combination of more than 40 symptoms, each person is unique. Consequently, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach.
Wearable devices, which collect accurate data on motor and some non-motor symptoms, can be a useful aid in the development of treatment plans. Coupled with professional assessments and the perspectives of the person with Parkinson’s and those close to them, this simple application of digital technology has been shown to enhance understanding of individual cases and make a meaningful difference in clinical decision making.
Considerable evidence on the benefits of wearable technology, in the treatment of Parkinson’s, has already been gathered in Scotland.
For example, NHS Fife began to work with Parkinson’s Kinetigraph (PKG) watches, on a trial basis, in 2017. Two years later, the team there reported that data captured by the wearable devices had enabled them to identify undertreated patients. Subsequently, 70 percent of the people who were monitored as part of the trial had their management plans changed.
However, despite the positive results of the trial, the use of this kind of technology remains limited in Scotland. Currently, individual services and NHS boards must identify funding and negotiate with manufacturers to purchase devices.
We need to define a nationwide approach to realise the potential of digital technology to deliver better treatment for people with Parkinson’s. Whether a standalone piece of work, or as part of a future plan to support delivery of the Digital Health and Care Strategy, patients, carers and professionals should all be engaged in how best to support the rollout of this technology across Scotland.
The power of technology can be harnessed to have a significant impact on the lives of the estimated 12,500 people with Parkinson’s in Scotland. We need the will to make that happen.
This article is sponsored by Parkinson’s UK.
Holyrood provides comprehensive coverage of Scottish politics, offering award-winning reporting and analysis: Subscribe