For years, patients’ hospital data has been available for researchers to be able to understand how well hospitals are performing. This data has also led to some of the most important medical discoveries when it comes to disease management and control.
The NHS’s proposed plans to add anonymised GP records to the data base in order to add further value has caused much controversy: so much so that the project has been pushed back to the autumn of this year. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-26239532
The key component in the delay of this project seems to have been a lack of communication to the public, with many commentators concerned about how the data might be used, and the risk of being able to identify individuals from the records: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-26239532
This highlights the need to secure data of this type against breaches and misuse by any party. Obviously, securing the records of tens of millions of patients is a huge challenge – but protecting that data must be the main concern and priority for this project. While the benefits of such a project seem to be very compelling, in terms of the possible breakthroughs in medicine and treatments, the public needs to feel safe in the knowledge that their records won’t fall victim to a data breach, no matter how anonymised the data is.