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Identifying strategies to overcome roadblocks to utilising near real-time healthcare and administrative data to create a Scotland-wide learning health system

Lay Summary

Creating a learning health system could help reduce variations in quality of care. Success is dependent on timely access to health data. To explore the barriers and facilitators to timely access to patients’ data, we conducted in-depth semi-structured interviews with 37 purposively sampled participants from government, the NHS and academia across Scotland. Interviews were analysed using the framework approach. Participants were of the view that Scotland could play a leading role in the exploitation of routine data to drive forward service improvements, but highlighted major impediments: (i) persistence of paper-based records and a variety of information systems; (ii) the need for a proportionate approach to managing information governance; and (iii) the need for support structures to facilitate accrual, processing, linking, analysis and timely use and reuse of data for patient benefit. There is a pressing need to digitise and integrate existing health information infrastructures, guided by a nationwide proportionate information governance approach and the need to enhance technological and human capabilities to support these efforts.


Mukherjee M, Cresswell K, Sheikh A.

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