Taking Care of Scottish Health Statistics

“Can we make official health statistics better?” was the question posed to attendees at our user engagement event on 17 June. Run jointly by UK Statistics Authority and ourselves here at ISD, this event was part of our Transforming Information Programme. The aim of the day was to better understand user needs to help inform improvements in quality, value, accessibility and impact of  information. The event was open to anybody with an interest in health statistics and anyone that couldn’t come along could follow the event on Twitter using the hashtag #healthstats.

The major part of the day was devoted to discussion. Delegates considered and chatted their way through a range of subjects and the room was buzzing with animated discussions at every table. We found out lots about what people use data for and why time was such a critical issue for many. We heard a new term (well new to me at least) ‘statistical neighbours’ to describe localities that were demographically and geographically similar to allow more effective comparisons. We also discovered what level of detail was useful and what did and didn’t work in terms of the way in which data are released.

There was plenty learning to take away but the stand outs for me were:

  • health is broader than the health service;
  • one size definitely does not fit all;
  • speed is of the essence for some customers;
  • ‘raw’ is the way to go for those with confident in their own analytical skills;
  • an alternative to the current ISD publications process would be valued;
  • more focus on explaining what the data is saying.

Reassuringly there was a clear appreciation of, and confidence in, the statistics produced by ISD so it sounded like we are starting off from a solid base.

The Transforming Information Programme has put together a report of the day which gives lots more detail about the content and the discussion. We also have a  ‘Storify’ which tells the day in tweets, which you can find at: https://storify.com/joycedalgleish/taking-care-of-scottish-health-statistics.

The learning from this event should be of huge benefit to the Transforming Information Programme. It will inform what we do with the data we holds, consider how we can improve the way data are analysed and presented and released to better inform our customers.

Joyce Dalgleish

Communications Manager

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