Health and social care: data strategy

Scotland’s first data strategy for health and social care, setting out how we will work together in transforming the way that people access their own data to improve health and wellbeing; and how care is delivered through improvements to our systems.

Joint Foreword

Through ‘Care in the Digital Age’, published in October 2021, we made a commitment to develop Scotland’s first dedicated Data Strategy for Health and Social Care. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the important role that maximising data can have in the delivery of health and social care. But it also highlighted the significant gaps in data, particularly in relation to unmet need in social care.

Our Strategy set our vision and ambitions to ensure that the data landscape is best placed to support key priorities. These ambitions will help us in supporting key missions across the health and social care sector, such as improving population health and reducing health inequalities as part of the Care and Wellbeing Portfolio approach.

This first Data Strategy for Health and Social Care lays the groundwork for transforming the way we as members of the public access and use our data to improve our own health and wellbeing. It also sets out the foundations for improving how health and social care is delivered including delivering improvements to our systems and infrastructure. Our Strategy has applied the principles of the Scottish Approach to Service Design. This means that people are at the heart of every decision that has been made, and will continue to be at the centre of the Strategy as we evolve and develop it.

The challenge to improving something as complex as our data landscape is understanding our current situation and identifying the priority actions to reach our vision for the future. This first version of the Strategy will not provide all the answers for everyone and we know there is much more that will need to be done over further iterations. Taking a step-by-step approach allows us to adapt and pivot year by year, responding to external factors that may influence change. It also allows us to evolve our approach to delivering this ambitious vision, whilst setting out a clear expectation on the ethical, transparent and trustworthy approach to using and accessing data that we expect across all data initiatives.

Using data to improve health and wellbeing in Scotland will require buy in across our health and social care sector and beyond. We look forward to working with you all to realise the ambitions of our Data Strategy and improve the lives of people in Scotland through better use of data.

Humza Yousaf MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care

Councillor Paul Kelly, COSLA Spokesperson for Health and Social Care



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