The primary unction of CHIAG is to advise Directors of Public Health and the Chief Medical officer (CMO) on access to the Community Health Index (CHI).
CHI is a database which is in wide use throughout NHSScotland and contains data on patient demographics and some clinical information on aspects of healthcare screening and surveillance. The CHI number is an NHS number which is used as a patient identifier. It plays an important role in the implantation of electronic health records and other information and communication technologies being introduced to healthcare in Scotland.
The CHI system is used for a wide range of purposes in addition to identifying patients, for example, moving patient notes between general practitioners, payments to practitioners, avoiding fraud and, importantly for those im the research community, the linking of electronic patent data.
A number of organisations act as data controllers for the CHI system and many healthcare employees will have access to the system. No single body therefore has responsibility for CHI, the data controllers being the 15 NHS boards. The role of CHIAG is to provide advice on when access should be allowed.
In addition to providing advice to the data controllers of CHI data, CHIAG is also responsible for publishing information on CHI and decisions takes in respect of applications for use or access to CHI, reviewing current access procedures, advising the Scottish Government Health Directorates and others about the interaction of CHI with other data systems, and for recommending standards and protocols which should be used both nationally and locally.
More information on CHIAG and the CHI database can be accessed here.