Scotland unveils health and care data strategy to ‘empower’ patients

Minister unveils plan and stresses importance of ‘taking people with us’ 

Credit: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay

The Scottish Government has announced its first data strategy for health and social care.  

Speaking at the Digital Health and Care event hosted by PublicTechnology sister publication Holyrood Connect, minister for mental wellbeing and social care, Kevin Stewart told delegates that the strategy “empower people by giving them easier access to their own health and social care information”. 

The Scottish Government hopes that the strategy will offer “better support” and in turn “improved outcomes”.  

A further aim of the announcement is that health and care professionals will be able to “confidentially gather, use and share data safely, and securely”, Stewart added. 

“This means getting access to the right information at the right time, supporting you and delivering the right care and support, ensuring that fit-for-purpose data is accessible to for planning research and innovation for the benefit of the public.”  

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The strategy aims to address key themes early on, before moving on to “more complex issues”. These themes include; workforce information; access to data; interoperability; infrastructure; information governance; and support in research innovation.  

Across the themes mapped out in the data strategy, it mentions the “importance of an ethical approach to the use of data and a strong commitment to digital inclusion”.

Stewart was also keen to underline “the importance of taking people with us”. 

He said: “Digital is an option and a shared journey, not simply a service that is being applied, and that we do our utmost to address potential exclusion so that no one is left behind. The data strategy will be iterative, continually developing in life for ongoing discussions and dialogue.”

Public understanding and trust are “essential” for the strategy to work, the minister told delegates. 

He said: “Ongoing engagement and participation will be key. And that is why during the strategy’s development we carried out extensive engagement and consolation, and we will continue to do so as we move forward.”  

Ruaraidh Gilmour

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