BLOG - Working together to make a difference with data

This blog reflects on how ADR Scotland are working in partnership to help respond to policy priorities in Scotland using administrative data.

Creating policy relevant research

Covid-19 has been a time where we can clearly see how data can help us to inform pandemic response and recovery. Our research in this area aims to better understand the impact of Covid-19 on the Scottish population and will continue to look at longer term effects.

Beyond the pandemic, our core research programmes have been designed and developed in alignment with Scottish Government’s longer term vision called the National Performance Framework (NPF). For example, we have a programme of work on understanding children’s lives and outcomes and Children and Young People are a major pillar in the NPF. In light of The Promise, which is driving forward findings of the Independent Care Review in Scotland, our research in this area hopes to contribute to better evidence-based understanding of children in care.

In Scotland’s latest Programme for Government (2021-22), published in September, we can see how various research projects ADR Scotland are undertaking can actively contribute to priorities outlined, such as our research on deaths at home which seeks to inform the new national strategy for palliative and end of life care and our forthcoming pilot work using nursing data which will showcase how data linkage can help us to better understand workforce dynamics in nursing.

So how are we doing this?

Our partnership is a close collaboration between academics across Scotland’s universities which form the Scottish Centre for Administrative Data Research (SCADR) and the Scottish Government.

Our research projects involve input from various colleagues in Government in analyst and policy roles, as well as third sector representatives and community perspectives. Together, through advisory groups, they help to shape our research questions, contextualise findings and influence future data linkage and research. We also have five ADR ambassadors who are helping us to champion and drive forward administrative data based analysis in Government and the public sector in Scotland.

Academic-Government Collaboration

We know what works in public sector data driven innovation, it is the ability to bring together a multi-disciplinary team of front line staff, public service managers and analysts, data experts and academic researchers. When this team works with shared data around a service user and involves users directly, it becomes possible not just to diagnose problems better, but to target interventions well and set up the services that deliver what users need.

The health and homelessness project exemplified this with shared analytical work from Government and academia, also bringing in people from NHS Scotland to think through the application of the analysis to changes in the way services are delivered. This has demonstrated real world benefits for citizens.

The ADR programme has established the systems and space for this to happen systematically. Indeed, the future 2022-26 ADR Scotland programme has been developed to best balance the decisions where having insight from linked admin data can make the biggest difference, the data we already have and academic expertise. Maintaining this balance and establishing these multi-disciplinary teams will be key to continuing to save time, money and lives with data.

This article was published on 04 Nov 2021


Harriet Baird and Roger Halliday