Health Data Research UK is creating a network of

inter-disciplinary research expertise that will disrupt traditional science

Judge us on the benefits to people

Progressing the National Digital Platform – one year on


A year has passed since the Scottish Government published its Digital Health and Care Strat- egy. Te Strategy highlighted the challenges with existing technology that make it difficult for clinicians and care staff to have all the information they need to offer the highest quality of care; information is both siloed by care setting and by organisation. Te Strategy was clear in its

cally we need scale – that is, data from multiple sources from huge numbers of patients need to be combined, particularly for un- common conditions (such as rare cancers). Accordingly, HDRUK will create a “thriving, UK-wide network of inter-disciplinary re- search expertise that will disrupt traditional science and transcend disciplines, by enabling new scientific discovery from large multi-dimensional datasets”. It sounds ambitious, but HDRUK is up and running – critically, cancer needs to feature highly in UK-wide efforts such as these in the years ahead, or we risk falling behind data-led improvements in other common chronic illnesses All in all, a fascinating session. It seems the challenge is less in

accumulating patient data but, rather, the ability to properly manage and analyse it all effec- tively. We also face challenges over issues of data standardization and how data are collected, stored, and studied; and data quality is, of course, influenced by human factors – ‘big data’ approaches de- pend on quality and completeness of data. Nevertheless, data-driven technologies have the potential to deliver tailor-made prevention strategies and treatments to pa- tients – the challenge is determin- ing how we can work together to reap these rewards. l

David Weller is Professor of General Practice at the Centre for Population Health Sciences, Edinburgh University.

commitment to do things dif- ferently so that we can make real-time data and information available to clinicians, social care staff and citizens, when they need it, wherever they are, and in an appropriate and secure way. Tat means that the technology has to operate as it if is a single system. When the system works like that, we will improve quality, access and the experience of both staff and citi- zens. It will support the work on key commitments such as elective centres, where citizens will get the highest quality of care, as well as simply make things like renewing a prescrip- tion or booking an appointment easier. Following the publication of

the Strategy, a team – NES Digi- tal Service (NDS) – was created in NHS Education Scotland in June of last year to take forward the work to create a National Digital Platform. Since then, we have been working to recruit the team, develop our approach and begin to build both the

core architecture and the first products. We are taking an iterative

approach to the work and have moved quickly to develop and test our early products at a small scale before we widen out both their availability and scope. Tat approach allows us to work directly with those people who will use and rely on the product to ensure that what we build works, and where it does not meet expectations, quickly adapt it before making it gener- ally available. Our first product will be a

digital version of the ‘ReSPECT’ process, which helps people communicate how they wish to be treated if they are unable to communicate in an emer- gency. Tis product will go into testing in parts of Scotland this Summer.

architecture of the platform, which has also been under development, and that core architecture will be used for all of our work. At this stage we are working

to test our presumptions, estab- lish the team to take forward the work and build relationships with the people who work in the system and the people who use it. We think that the work that we do and the degree to which it benefits people will be the best way to judge the NDS. l

Geoff Huggins is Director of NES Digital Service

‘Starting with a skateboard’, See page 34


It is built on the core

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