Health and Social Care

Reflections on Data at DigiFest 2021

December 7, 2021 by No Comments | Category health & social care, Health strategy

Imme Jones is Policy Lead for Data Strategy and Data-Driven Innovation in the Digital Health and Care Directorate.

Last week I attended Digital Health and Care Festival 2021 (#Digifest21). The event was entirely virtual following the success of last year and taking into account the circumstances of the pandemic. It was a packed couple of days with 32 different sessions running over the two days, attended by over 990 active participants and with speakers from 14 different countries.

The Digital Health and Care policy team were amongst the 20 organisations exhibiting. This year the team and I were promoting our work on the Data Strategy for Health and Care which is currently in development.

Exhibiting at DigiFest 2021 proved an excellent way to engage companies who provide a range of expertise on skills, innovation and data.  The Data Strategy for Health and Social Care will become Scottish Government’s roadmap for addressing key issues within the themes of skills, technology, sharing platforms and standards for Health and Care data.

It is an opportunity to support organisations to better store, access and share their data and improve its use by citizens, healthcare professionals and research/innovators. The strategy will support the existing Digital Health and Care Strategy which was refreshed this year in light of the pandemic and published in October.

Already our Working Group is busy setting out how we will develop the Data Strategy, this includes representatives from Scottish Government, COSLA, Public Health Scotland, NESTA and Open Government with expertise on issues of data, accountability, transparency and ethics.  Furthermore, the establishment of a dedicated Data Board is in the pipeline; the aim of which is to provide collective (multi-agency) leadership that can influence and direct the remit and scope of the strategy, ensure it meets the needs and requirements of the Health and Care sector and shape and create the necessary governance and delivery arrangements required.

We have also just embarked on the first round of an ongoing programme of engagement with the public and relevant stakeholders (including the Third Sector, equalities groups, civil liberties groups, health and care professionals, business and innovation and other government policy areas) to help formulate the draft Strategy.  A further round of engagement in the first quarter of next year will provide those same groups with the opportunity to synthesize and refine their inputs.  This will be complimented by a formal public consultation on the Data Strategy  due to go live in Spring 2022.  Once we have collated and incorporated all the responses the Strategy will be finalised and published, and an accompanying delivery plan developed. This will ensure that the strategy remains a living document and delivers on its objectives.

DigiFest 2021 was fantastic as we were able to learn from other countries, such as Finland who very clearly demonstrated that public trust is key to developing digital services and through building a consensus-based culture, there has been a willingness and appetite to share, use and access data to improve health and social care services for the benefit of all.  It also gave us a real opportunity to raise awareness of the development of the Data Strategy for Health and Social Care and we are excited about working collaboratively with stakeholders to ensure a strategy which will ultimately work to ensure a more robust, effective and integrated Health and Social Care system.

For more information on Scotland’s Data Strategy for Health and Social Care, contact Participation and Engagement Lead – Nel Whiting:

You can also keep up to date via our Working Group page: Digital Health and Care Data Strategy Working Group – (

Twitter: @DigiCare4Scot

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