A National Network of Safe Havens: Scottish Perspective

Chuang Gao, Mark McGilchrist, Shahzad Mumtaz, Christopher Hall, Lesley Anderson, John Zurowski, Sharon Gordon, Joanne Lumsden, Vicky Munro, Artur Wozniak, Michael Sibley, Christopher Banks, Chris Duncan, Pamela Linksted, Alastair Hume, Catherine Stables, Charlie Mayor, Jacqueline Caldwell, Katie Wilde, Christian ColeEmily Jefferson (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
132 Downloads (Pure)


For over a decade, Scotland has implemented and operationalized a system of Safe Havens, which provides secure analytics platforms for researchers to access linked, deidentified electronic health records (EHRs) while managing the risk of unauthorized reidentification. In this paper, a perspective is provided on the state-of-the-art Scottish Safe Haven network, including its evolution, to define the key activities required to scale the Scottish Safe Haven network's capability to facilitate research and health care improvement initiatives. A set of processes related to EHR data and their delivery in Scotland have been discussed. An interview with each Safe Haven was conducted to understand their services in detail, as well as their commonalities. The results show how Safe Havens in Scotland have protected privacy while facilitating the reuse of the EHR data. This study provides a common definition of a Safe Haven and promotes a consistent understanding among the Scottish Safe Haven network and the clinical and academic research community. We conclude by identifying areas where efficiencies across the network can be made to meet the needs of population-level studies at scale.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere31684
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number3
Early online dateDec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 9 Mar 2022


  • Safe Haven
  • data governance
  • electronic health records

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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