£3m government funding for Leicester University to demonstrate how health data can improve health

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A project led by the University of Leicester is one of 10 projects announced to receive a share of £3 million Government funding to prove the potential of health data to transform lives.

The University of Leicester-led project will receive approximately £270,000 to develop a secure, confidential solution to make patient datasets safely linkable and discoverable so that a complete patient profile can be readily located.

For healthcare and research purposes, diverse patient datasets need to be linked and made easy to find. This requires a unified national approach, designed to protect patient privacy and yet operate in a combined centralised and multi-party (federated) manner.

The team is working with NHS digital, NHS Leicestershire Health Informatics and privacy engineering company Privitar to establish a network of encrypted linkable and co-discoverable patient-related datasets. A case study in multimorbidity will inform and test the system’s detailed design, and a multi-disciplinary oversight committee will ensure scalability and national relevance.

The UK has some of the richest health data or anywhere in the world, yet it is fragmented, and its potential to improve lives is often untapped. To address this and demonstrate the power of data in health research to transform lives the Government is funding ‘proof of concept’ initiatives, led by Health Data Research UK. These will inform the creation of a UK-wide infrastructure that securely and safely connects health data research and innovation.

The projects are funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) as part of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy, which aims to tackle the big societal and industrial challenges of today such as an ageing population.

The project was selected following a UK-wide competition to demonstrate how health data can improve health outcomes for people across the UK, as one of 10 ‘Sprint Exemplar Innovation Projects’. Each of the initiatives will build on best practice and will inform the future delivery of a UK-wide infrastructure for health data research and innovation.