Linking the people and places of Scotland

September 3, 2021 by No Comments | Category Data, Digital Scotland

Blog by the Data and Intelligence Network Management Office, Digital Directorate, Scottish Government.

Working together

The Scottish Government’s Data and Intelligence Network (D&IN) use data to support the delivery of business solutions to pressing critical issues which impact the people of Scotland.

A new way of Thinking

In March 2021, we, the Data & Intelligence Network Management Office (NMO), launched our first Challenge Generation Studio as a new approach for our team, aiming to inject energy and support to challenge delivery across Scotland’s public sector.

Our first studio brought a great turnout of network members from the public sector including, Scottish Government colleagues, local authorities, Public Health Scotland (PHS) and academia with colleagues identifying the network as collaborative, ethical and creative. Six Challenges were taken to the studio for consideration, with two selected for the D&IN NMO to take forward into delivery using a voting system; CHI/UPRN Matching (Linking Health Records to Places) and Equality Protected Characteristics. The Network Management Office have since worked with stakeholders to progress both challenges. In this blog we would like to tell you more specifically about the CHI/UPRN challenge which has recently been delivered.

Why we need effective data matching

What is the value in matching data? We have found the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the need for effective data matching in today’s health systems. A key match is that from Community Health Index Number (CHI – The unique personal identifier for patients accessing Health Services in Scotland) to the Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN – The unique identifier for properties across Scotland). As the UPRN is associated with an address AND a grid reference linking it to the CHI number enables spatial analysis to be carried out.

The benefits of having accurate address data and enabling spatial analysis of health data were clearly shown in the ability to determine the best location for test and vaccination centres, identify the distribution of care homes with outbreaks and to create linkages to location factors impacting on people’s health.

In acknowledgment of these benefits, a one off exercise, sponsored by Public Health Scotland, the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, and The Local Authority Improvement Service (IS) was undertaken in August 2020 to create a file with improved matched CHI and UPRN address information. This file helped resolve several issues including the accuracy and currency of the address data of residents in care homes affected by COVID-19.

Success and Creation

Following from this one off exercise the D&IN then outlined the need for creation of a regularly updated CHI-UPRN Residential Linkage (CURL) File which would support several planned research activities including:

• Assessment of the extent to which COVID infections impact schools and how schools impact on local communities in the Lothian Health Board Region
• Research to improve understanding of the impact that housing has on health
• Improved data helping the investigation of socioeconomic, household and environmental risk factors for COVID-19 in Scotland

Access to the CURL File within the National Safe Haven is strictly controlled and only authorised research staff who have successfully applied for and received approval from the Health Public Benefits Privacy Panel (PBPP) will be able to access and use the data.

Colleagues at the Scottish Centre for Administrative Data Research (SCADR) – hosted by the University of Edinburgh, and the Improvement Service will be responsible for the ongoing regular updating and maintenance of the CURL file. D&IN staff will continue to monitor the use of the CURL file and promote its availability through the D&IN Data Catalogue and as a resource for future challenges.

We will provide ongoing updates over the coming months of other pieces of work the Data & Intelligence Network Management are leading and projects within the wider D&IN Network.

If you are interested in finding out more about the Data & Intelligence Network or how we could help you with a data challenge you are facing please get in touch with us at:

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