How the Health and Social Care Data Strategy for Scotland shapes PHS’s work

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Public Health Scotland

Public Health Scotland (PHS) is Scotland’s national body for public health and wellbeing and one of the key partners delivering the Health and Social Care Data Strategy. At PHS we harness data and intelligence to progress our ambition for Scotland to have the best life expectancy in Western Europe and to eliminate inequalities in health between communities. For example, we do this as part of our role as Scotland’s lead producer of statistics and insights about population health and how the health system is responding to people’s care and treatment needs. Good data about population health helps Scotland to plan its future services, and good data about health service activity helps assess the success of interventions to improve health and reduce demand for care.

We also support the strategy through our partnership work with organisations such as Research Data Scotland. Our Electronic Data Research and Innovation Service (eDRIS) is the contact point for individuals and organisations who want to generate research insights to improve population health using Scotland’s health and care data.

The strategy’s commitments to work collaboratively to create meaningful and understandable insights underpin many of PHS’s data products. Highlights of this include:

  • A&E dashboards – to provide timely insights for the public and NHS managers about A&E activity and performance. These were designated as accredited official statistics by the Office for Statistics Regulation in 2023, following independent assurance of their trustworthiness, quality and value.
  • Whole System and Winter Dashboard – this supports over 700 users to use data from across the system to drive action locally, regionally and nationally, resulting in better planning and, ultimately, improved outcomes for patients.
  • Discovery – an ongoing collaboration between PHS, NHS boards, the Scottish Government and NHS National Services Scotland – this online management information system provides approved users (Scottish Government/NHS Health Boards/Local Authorities/Health & Social Care Partnerships) with access to a range of comparative healthcare information.
  • System Watch – a tool for NHS Boards and Scottish Government to monitor and predict emergency activity in hospitals and to access supporting information gathered from sources across the NHS.
  • SPARRA (Scottish Patients at Risk of Readmission and Admission) – a tool developed by PHS that predicts a person’s likelihood of being admitted to hospital as an emergency inpatient within the next year. Healthcare professionals can access SPARRA information for people who are predicted to be at risk. A SPARRA risk score is calculated monthly for approximately 80% of all people living in Scotland.
  • Primary Care Data and Intelligence Platform – we are participating in the development of a digital platform to allow research and evaluation of general practice data drawn from 916 GP practices automatically. This has the potential to be a game changer for primary care data.
  • Social Care Data and Intelligence Programme – we are also working with partners to optimise the development and analysis of social care data. This initiative will address recognised data gaps and help to inform, monitor and support the delivery of high-quality social care and improve outcomes for people in Scotland.

Using data to improve health and wellbeing in Scotland requires strong collaboration across our health and social care sector and beyond. We are fully committed to working with our partners to realise the ambitions of the data strategy and improve the lives of people in Scotland through better use of data.

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