DataLoch: data-driven public health

EPCC and other partners at the University of Edinburgh have commenced work on a new programme to develop DataLoch, a data repository for all local, regional and national health and social care data for residents of the Edinburgh & South East Scotland region.

DataLoch and the associated Data Driven Innovation team will drive research and innovation, improve patient care, and reduce health inequalities across the region.

Scotland is unique in having a single healthcare provider and a health system consisting of world-leading linked national healthcare data assets from birth to death. In the East of Scotland there are excellent examples of these data assets being harnessed to benefit patients, the health service, and the general population. But these are built on specific research projects, and the current approach to data access and linkage is fragmented, inefficient and often limited to specific conditions.

The DataLoch programme aims to streamline this process by creating a comprehensive and integrated health and social care data ecosystem in partnership with the regional NHS Boards of Lothian, Borders, and Fife, allied to national and local government, and partners across the social care spectrum. Data will be securely hosted by Edinburgh International Data Facility, and will be defined, linked and accessible via an online portal for accredited researchers. Users of the DataLoch will have access to accurate and current data on all aspects of health and social care for the population, for any condition, clinical pathway, or service across the City Region.

The programme will initially be driven by a number of exemplar projects. One of these exemplars seeks to improve the care of patients with multimorbidity – two or more chronic conditions at the same time. A data driven approach will help clinicians recognise the impact of multimorbidity on the safety and effectiveness of treatments and interventions, and will support a more personalised approach to patient management. The aim will be to improve the quality and delivery of care through innovative use of healthcare data.

“Multi-morbidity is now the norm not the exception in people with chronic conditions, and health services need to respond to this by putting the patient and their choices at the centre of care.” Prof. Stewart Mercer, Chair of Primary Care and Multimorbidity, Usher Institute

As the bedrock of the health and social care Data Driven Innovation programme, DataLoch enables collaboration and innovation across the public, private and third sectors. DataLoch promotes a data-driven approach to prevention, treatment and service delivery, and will enable the development of a world-leading learning health system in our region.

“Support from the City Region Deal and DDI programme will enable us to create a unique platform and service that aligns the needs of both our research community and our health and social care providers. DataLoch will encourage new partnerships to help us achieve a common goal of improving the health and care of the citizens of our region and beyond.” Prof. Nicholas L Mills, Senior Responsible Officer for the Health and Social Care DDI Hub


Ally Hume, EPCC  

Published December 2019

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