Digital health project Living it Up misses target
A £10m online health project has reached less than a third of the people it set out to, the BBC has learned.
The Living it Up (LiU) initiative was described as an "online self-management hub" aimed at the over-50s.
It was announced in 2013 with the aim of having 55,000 users across Scotland by May 2015. But it has attracted just 15,000, at a cost of £690 per patient.
NHS 24 said although the service had only 15,000 members, the website averaged 50,000 hits per month.
In November 2013, the then Scottish health secretary Alex Neil announced LiU, saying it would use technology to match an individual's needs with professional information, local services and beneficial activities in their community.
He said the initiative would allow health services to be accessed via familiar technology such as televisions, computers, smartphones, tablets and games consoles.
The Living it Up website has a quiz to 'reveal what makes you shine', a search tool to allow users to find community projects and a guide to social media sites like Twitter and Instagram.
It claims to be "useful for those with long-term health conditions, care givers and anyone who wants to improve their health, wellbeing and quality of life".
NHS 24, which manages the project, said it was designed to embed "digital tools within health and care service pathways".
It said this included video consultations and health monitoring at home.
In a statement, the NHS 24 Scottish Centre for Telehealth and Telecare said: "The Living it Up (LiU) programme is a pioneering and ambitious project."
However it admitted: "Recruitment has been challenging against the initial profile established at the outset of the programme.
"During the first two years of the programme, there were two cycles - the innovation cycle and the operational cycle. It has been accepted that innovating new products and services while scaling up at the same time is complex.
"Recruitment is picking up significant momentum now that the operational phase has been reached, with a 55% growth over the previous six months."
Living it Up was funded by the Scottish government, the Technology Strategy Board, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, as well as local health boards and local authorities.
It was given £10.375m funding over three years.
The project is currently available to patients in Forth Valley, Lothian, Moray, the Highlands, Argyll and Bute and the Western Isles.