Health and social care - data strategy: 2024 update - progress and priorities

An update on progress in the first year of Scotland's first data strategy for health and social care and future priorities.

Creating Insights from Data

We want to work in partnership with health and social care to adopt a wholesystem approach to creating insight from data that allow us to improve services. This includes the creation of insight to: inform communities, inform policy, identify, measure, and monitor differential outcomes, experiences and access to services for different population groups, target interventions and support, improve services and improve partnership working.

What we have achieved so far

In our first year we have:

  • Near Time Data Service/Data for Insights. Work was undertaken to scope out the technical opportunities for making use of near real-time data for insight. It was established that a new approach to delivering key management information was needed via a Near Time Data Service that would be hosted via the Seer 2 platform. This has included testing out of technologies to provide dashboarding across health and social care to support understanding of the strategic indicators across the health and social care system. A programme of user engagement has also been undertaken to support this work with findings due to be made available in April 2024. Work was also undertaken to review the technology, data flows and capabilities required to create a scalable automated service. By utilising platforms such as Seer 2 this enables collaborative working and facilitates analysis of data to ensure that near real-time data can be used to inform decision making to deliver the best care possible.
  • Engagement. Additionally, PHS have undertaken a user consultation regarding publication of data to understand which format users prefer and what topics are most used/missing. This feedback will be used to inform decisions about priority data collections to ensure that best use is being made of existing resources and deliver increased public value.
  • Care Home Data Review. Scottish Government, PHS and Care Inspectorate have undertaken a review of the care home data landscape, with the aim of ensuring a coherent suite of data collections, reducing the burden on data providers, and providing quality and insightful data to meet the existing and emerging needs of data users. A report will be published in Spring, which contains a number of recommendations to improve how data are collected, shared, communicated, and used across the sector. Work is underway to establish a Working Group to set out a phased programme of work to implement these recommendations. Further information on the review and outputs from stakeholder engagement events can be found on the Care Home Data Review webpage.
  • Analytical Tools Landscape. NSS, PHS and Scottish Government have undertaken a review of the analytical tools in use across the health and social care sector. Initial principles for the selection and application of analytical tools were identified as part of this review:
    • Cloud first,
    • Use the right tool for the right job,
    • Separate out ingestion, transformation, and insight,
    • Hold and manage data in a separate layer,
    • Follow good software development practice,
    • Share good practice, insight, and skills,
    • Adopt strategies which mitigate market risks,
    • Reproducible methodology (e.g. Reproducible Analytical Pipeline) where required and open insights,
    • Transparent processes and management.

Engagement with stakeholders will be undertaken to refine the initial principles.

How this helps to achieve our vision

It is widely acknowledged across Health and Social Care that there are difficulties in sharing ‘near real-time’ data for effective planning and decision making. Our progress in developing these dashboards and delivering improved technologies such as Seer 2 have allowed us to begin to deliver greater insight into the data we hold in Scotland’s health and social care sector. Work in delivering greater insight into the Winter pressures experienced by our services in Scotland will set the baseline for new approaches to delivering management information and insight that will allow us to improve services.

Case Study – NHS Tayside Athena Command Centre

NHS Tayside implemented a live patient flow management system known as The Athena Command Centre which enables real-time data to be utilised to inform decision making, enabling NHS Tayside to respond to challenges in the patient flow/demand/capacity. The Command Centre uses analytic predictions for the week ahead to enable planning of patient pathways, staffing and capacity and potential pressure points in the system. The platform provides one source of information for the current hospital status, using data in this way has resulted in cost savings, reduced emergency department waiting times, and delayed discharge. The provision of a live view of their current bed availability has also reduced administration time and enabled enhanced understanding of patient movement across the health system, ultimately enhancing outcomes for patients. NHS Tayside have shared best practice with other NHS Boards and as a result NHS Lanarkshire have now started work to adopt a similar approach.

Case Study – Transforming Data to Deliver Insights to Clinical Practice Teams

The Scottish Cardiac Audit Programme (SCAP) was established to support delivery of priority 4 of the heart disease action plan. to ensure the effective use of data for clinical decision making, understanding patient outcomes and enabling better service planning.

The programme has brought together clinicians, policy teams, analysts, third sector and those with lived experience to develop the measures included within the audit and establish the best way to publish the data. SCAP has strengthened links with analyst and service teams to improve the data quality and consistency, developing new linkages between datasets and providing data collection tools for the clinical teams across hospitals in Scotland.

Data dashboards have also been developed to allow clinical teams to review data in a more dynamic and meaningful way, allowing clinical teams to quickly highlight areas in patient pathways across sectors where improvements could be made to improve outcomes for patients. Strong links with the policy team mean that the audit data can have a direct impact on policy development and in particular on delivery of the heart disease action plan.

What’s next for 2024-25?

Our Priorities for 2024-25 is to:

  • Develop a Road Map for Data for Insights. Continue to progress this work to determine what capabilities are deployed longer term in Seer 2 and how we work on improving data flows across health and social care to allow for sharing in this environment. This will form a Road Map for Data for Insights for how we continue to work with health and social care organisations in the next two to three years. This roadmap will set out our plans for:
    • switching off aggregate data collections,
    • providing data pipelines via national boards such as PHS and NES,
    • how to provide deep dive insights alongside dashboarding in a collaborative way,
    • working with Boards and Local Authorities regarding how they might use near real-time data for local purposes.
  • Analytical Tooling. NSS, PHS, the Scottish Government and COSLA will continue to work together to further refine and develop the principles for the selection and adoption of analytical tools across health and social care. Through the Data Delivery Sub-board, we will look to rationalise and reduce the number of different tools and products that are used to create insights from data. In doing so we will aim to empower our workforce by building capability around a core set of tools, and creating shared skills across specialists so they are able to deliver the greatest possible insight.



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