Opinions

My World, My Health – Using data to help keep you well

Written by: Zahid Deen, Director, Digital and Service Transformation, the ALLIANCE

Published: 24/02/2020

Image showing the 'My World, My Health' logo and the different factors that influence health

We've launched an exciting new project. Exploring what things matter for your health and your views on sharing this kind of data.

Your health and wellbeing is crucially important.

That’s recognised at the highest levels within Government, as Scotland’s First Minister has pointed out that people’s wellbeing should be viewed as important as the country’s economic growth.

But what things keep you healthy?

The NHS currently collects data on your clinical care. Things like your medications, treatment and test results. While that information is vital, research indicates other things like lifestyle and your socio-economic context can be bigger contributing factors to your health and broader wellbeing.

Perhaps the things that really matter for your own health are keeping active, good food, strong and stable family connections. Or maybe close friends, being in work, secure and warm housing and living in a clean, safe physical environment?

You might be recording or monitoring some of these things that matter to you on your smartphone. Sharing them with (private sector) social media companies or apps.

While you might hold some data on these contributors to your health, so might other services you interact with in the public and voluntary sectors.  For example, a social housing provider might know about your housing situation and household composition.

What if we maximised the opportunities of the digital age so you and other public services could, with your consent, share some of this data in secure ways to better support your health.

  • For instance, do physical activity or social connections particularly influence your health? Then perhaps sharing some data on these with the NHS (or social care) might help them better address your needs;
  • And what if your GP could see other data about major changes to your life – such as suddenly becoming a family carer or losing your job. It may help them foresee if you were at risk of stress. Something they could raise sensitively during a consultation and act on by referring you to relevant local support. To help keep you well at these crunch times.

Different organisations could possibly also draw on anonymised data to better design services so they are more joined up, simpler and ultimately make your life easier.

How do you feel about this type of data sharing?  And if it seems like a good thing to explore in some contexts, how should it be designed so it gives you control and also helps you in practical ways?

These are some of the questions the ALLIANCE will be exploring with the public this year in an exciting new project, in partnership with the Digital Health and Care Institute, called My World, My Health Using data to help keep you well.

The project is commissioned by Nesta on behalf of the Scottish Government who will look at the findings from this and other work in developing their approaches to data sharing and service design.

We would love it if you could get involved in My World, My Health.  You could register and attend one of the workshops being arranged across Scotland in April and May and receive a shopping voucher for your time. Alternatively you can give feedback on this topic via our future survey, along with a chance to enter a great prize draw. Watch this space for more details, follow the Twitter hashtag #MyWorldMyHealth and please participate if you can!

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