Scotland urged to close healthcare ‘data gap’

Written by Louise Wilson on 28 January 2021 in News
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Study from non-profit SCDI identifies narrow opportunity to invest in innovation

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The Scottish Government must invest in data, digital and technology in health and social care to help Scotland recover from Covid-19, according to the Scottish Council for Development and Industry.

Closing the data gap in the sector could be worth £800m a year and deliver savings of £5.4bn to NHS Scotland, a report from the non-profit membership network has found.

SCD said better data would help to build resilience against future public health challenges, which in turn will drive a healthy economy.

It called for investment in new and emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and automation to “revolutionise” health and social care.

Chief executive Sara Thiam said: “Scotland has a narrow window of opportunity to establish itself as a leader in data and innovation in health and social care. There are big social and economic gains for all of us if we can work together to close Scotland’s data gap.”


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The report points to the successful use of data throughout the coronavirus pandemic, which has helped control outbreaks, shape public health restrictions and design business support.

But it also warned there is a gap between what is currently collected and what should be.

The SCDI, which works with government and other stakeholders to promote economic growth, said data must be used ethically, with robust governance arrangements in place to promote trust and transparency.

The last programme for government committed to creating a dedicated data strategy for health and social care.

Alison Culpan, director of the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry in Scotland, said: “Now more than ever we need to close the data gap and re-establish Scotland as a country at the forefront of digital innovation.

“This report clearly outlines the steps required to realise the data vision and ensure healthcare data can not only improve patient lives but stimulate economic growth in a post-Covid world.”

 

About the author

Louise Wilson is a journalist at PublicTechnology sister publication Holyrood, where this story first appeared. She tweets as @louisewilso.

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