Research and case studies

The Farr Institute, SPIRE’s key research partner, has extensive experience in using data to advance the health and care of patients and the public.

100 examples on how data can be used to benefit patients and the public

Patient safety

SPIRE provides the opportunity to support the safe, appropriate prescribing of medicines for patients. SPIRE will allow information held in GP records about patients on certain drugs to be identified and reviewed to ensure patients receive the right medicine(s) and that appropriate monitoring has been undertaken. SPIRE will allow this to be carried out in a routine, uniform way across all GP practices in Scotland, which currently does not exist.

One example of this is that GPs that will be able systematically to identify patients on Metformin (a drug used to treat those with some forms of diabetes) who have significantly worsening or impaired kidney function to make sure that continued treatment is not harmful to these patients.


In Scotland our cancer survival rates are amongst the worst in Europe. Reasons for this are not clear, but are thought to include the effects of multimorbidity (two or more long-term illnesses). For example, having other long-term conditions in addition to cancer is thought to impact on taking part in cancer screening, recognition of possible signs and symptoms of cancer, suitability for and response to treatment, and survival.

SPIRE would enable researchers from Scotland to understand the characteristics of people in GP practices with two or more long-term conditions, and how these conditions influence the health care of those patients with cancer. Without SPIRE it is difficult to identify and measure the characteristics of those with long-term conditions and so this research would be much more difficult in Scotland.

For the last 20 years in Scotland we have shown that the trustworthy sharing of information between patients, their GPs and hospitals improves the quality of care and reduces the likelihood of blindness and amputation and other problems faced by people living with diabetes. The same information has also supported outstanding research into the causes, consequences and new treatments making Scotland the envy of the world.

Professor Andrew Morris, Professor of Medicine, Vice Principal Data Science, University of Edinburgh