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27 January 2021 | Digital

Mind the Gap: Data, Digital and Technology in Health & Social Care


Mind the Gap: How Data, Digital and Technology Can Help Scotland Recover from COVID-19, Transform Health & Social Care and Boost Our Economy

COVID-19 has tested Scotland like perhaps never before. We need to learn the lessons of the pandemic to build a healthy society and a healthy economy. Our new report, Mind the Gap, sets out how.

What is ‘Scotland’s Data Gap’?

Scotland’s Data Gap is the gap between the health & social care data we collect, utilise or share today and the health & social care data we need and could collect, utilise or share in the future.

Health & social care data can be generated in many different contexts – from clinical or care settings like hospitals, pharmacies and care homes, to community or commercial settings like online retail or through wearables and the Internet of Things – to give new insights and accelerate new innovations.

Health & social care data must be ethical, secure and anonymised as far as possible with robust and transparent governance arrangements. Data must be trustworthy and trusted.

Why do we need to close Scotland’s Data Gap?

A healthy society is essential for a healthy economy. Access to real-world health & social care data has informed and enhanced decision-making and policymaking throughout the crisis to save lives and livelihoods.

Ethical, robust and secure health & social care data has been essential in helping health & social care professionals, researchers and innovators, and leaders, policymakers and employers, to identify and control outbreaks; design appropriate restrictions, interventions and support; develop new, more effective treatments; and roll out vaccines at pace.

Data saves lives, time and money. It can enable and underpin the use of new and emerging technologies like AI, automation, nanotechnology and precision medicine. It can deliver big social and economic gains by:

  • Social Gains: Saving lives, improving outcomes for patients and service users and reducing pressures on and protecting the long-term future of the NHS and social care
  • Economic Gains: Creating jobs, attracting investment, increasing productivity and reducing inequalities

Scotland has a narrow window of opportunity to establish itself as a world leader. Long-term, strategic investment could help Scotland recover and build resilience from COVID-19, transform health & social care and boost our economy.

Using research by Dell EMC and EY, we’ve estimated that Scotland’s health & social care data could be worth £800 million every year and could be harnessed to deliver £5.4 billion in savings (38% of its current budget) for NHS Scotland alone to reinvest.

How can we close Scotland’s Data Gap?

The Scottish Government committed in its Programme for Government 2020/21 to ‘create a dedicated data strategy for health & social care for the first time’. It is due to be published later in 2021. We believe its delivery should be backed by a Health & Social Care Transformation Fund which invests in strengthening four strategic priorities:

  • Strategy: Developing an ambitious, collaborative and innovative national approach to harnessing data to transform health & social care which maximises social and economic gains
  • Culture & Leadership: Empowering leaders to drive change by building an ambitious and collaborative national culture of innovation in data, digital and technology
  • Skills: Investing in reskilling, upskilling and lifelong learning to develop a health & social care workforce better equipped to harness data, digital and technology
  • Infrastructure: Modernising and upgrading health & social care infrastructure to build a single national data architecture which integrates systems, enables ethical data sharing and creates secure digital health records

Download the full report – or a 10-minute summary – below.

This independent report was commissioned by Janssen UK and authored by SCDI.

The views and conclusions in the report are those of SCDI and should be attributed to SCDI. SCDI takes full responsibility for the content of the report and associated publications.

The Steering Group with representation from Janssen UK, The Data Lab, University of Strathclyde, ABPI Scotland and Scottish Government supported the development of the report and provided extensive input to shape it.