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Think tank report

Investment in data ‘would transform health care’

OracleBio MediCity

Medical research is a growing sector

A think tank has urged the Scottish Government to harness the country’s data skills to help transform health & social care.

The Scottish Council for Development and Industry says investment in digital technologies would improve the wellbeing of the nation produce wider economic benefits.

It would also generate billions of pounds in savings that could be ploughed back into new public services and stimulating economic growth.

Mind the Gap has been produced in conjunction with industry and suggests that investment in new and emerging technologies such as AI and automation could revolutionise health & social care in Scotland.

Using research by Dell and EY, the report estimates that Scotland’s health & social care data could be worth £800 million a year and could be harnessed to deliver £5.4 billion in savings for NHS Scotland alone – a massive 38% of its current budget – to reinvest.

Investment now could help improve working environments, increase productivity and reduce demand pressures across the sector, which have only intensified due to COVID-19, it says.

The report welcomes the Scottish Government’s commitment – announced in its Programme for Government last September – to create a dedicated data strategy for health & social care, which is due to be published later in 2021.

However, it says the delivery of the strategy needs to be backed by a Health & Social Care Transformation Fund to invest in closing Scotland’s Data Gap.

Sara Thiam, SCDI’s chief executive, said: “As we look to recover and build resilience from COVID-19, this report could not be more timely or more important.

Sara Thiam

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“Our doctors, nurses, pharmacists and social care professionals working in our hospitals, our care homes and our communities have been heroic throughout the pandemic. They deserve our support to harness data, digital and technology to transform health & social care for the future.

“Scotland has a narrow window of opportunity to establish itself as a leader in data and innovation in health & social care.

“There are big social and economic gains for all of us if we can work together to close Scotland’s data gap.”

Alison Culpan, director of the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry in Scotland, said: “This report clearly outlines the steps required to realise the data vision and ensure healthcare data can not only improve patient lives but stimulate economic growth in a post-COVID world.”

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