People’s health and wellbeing can improve faster through evidence informed data driven decisions and services. That’s why I'm delighted to see the publication of Scotland’s first data strategy for health and social care, and pleased that Research Data Scotland (RDS) is featured in the delivery of a number of the strategy’s commitments.
The strategy takes a person-centred view of how the many ongoing challenges faced by the healthcare sector can be solved by embracing innovation.
Health and social care services are under huge pressure as we recover from the pandemic and we must harness research driven innovation to address the backlog in care; meet the ongoing healthcare needs of people across Scotland; and tackle long standing, well known health inequalities.
The underlying principle, which the strategy is based on, is championing ethical approaches to data. RDS has a role to play here - the Protected Characteristics Linkage Dataset, which will improve the ability of service providers and researchers to study issues of access to, and outcomes from, the health and social care services for people with different protected characteristics.
What’s striking about the strategy is the focus of people-centred vision with three key audiences highlighted:
- the public who are empowered to manage and contribute their data
- the people who deliver health and social care services
- the researchers and users who can only support innovation when fit for purpose data is readily accessible through secure and safe means.
RDS can support researchers in this way, particularly by working in partnership with other organisations like Scottish Government, Public Health Scotland, Regional Safe Havens and NHS Research Scotland.