Scotland has a stable population of approximately 5 million and one of the most highly developed health informatics systems in the world. All the population receives, at birth, a unique Community Health Index (CHI) number which is included in records each time a person interacts with the NHS, recording entire medical histories from birth (conception) to death, which links with GP data, hospital records, drug prescriptions, morbidity and mortality. Scotland also offers:
- A low rate of migration
- An urban, rural and ethnically diverse population mix
- A single unified NHS health system
- Agreed technical and clinical standards for information exchange.
- High rates of common complex diseases
Scotland also has a strong record of patients willing and eager to participate in health research and the SHARE initiative is helping create a confidential register of people interested in participating in health research and who agree to allow SHARE to use the coded data in their various NHS computer records to check whether they might be suitable for health research studies.