Hi-tech funding for Scottish dentists

GRANTS worth £350 are being awarded to Scottish dental practices as part of plans to reduce paper and make greater use of technology.

The use of e-signatures is now being accepted by NHS health boards across the country, allowing patients to sign for treatment on a digital device rather than with pen and paper.

Practices who choose to adopt this approach can use the funding to buy an e-signature pad. The cash can also be put towards the purchase of other computer equipment, such as replacing ageing PCs, but is not intended to be used for recurring or maintenance costs for a practice management system.

The move is part of the Scottish Government’s Strategic Vision for e-Dentistry which was outlined in a memorandum to dentists in October 2015. The document detailed an “ambitious” three-phase programme of future work to “improve the assurance, governance, efficiency and information on quality of services”.

Phase one is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018 and focuses mainly on “business efficiency” measures. This includes the move away from the use and storage of paper GP17PR forms to electronic records and e-signatures.

From April 1, 2017, the government plan is for all communication between NHS boards and dentists to take place via NHS email and all referrals from dentists via the SCI (Scottish Care Information) gateway. And from January 1, 2018, all GP17 claims for payment and prior approval will become either electronic (using practice management software) or web-based.

Practices seeking more detailed advice are being advised by the government to contact the IT facilitator for their NHS board. Read the latest e-Dentistry memorandum here