Seven virtual data hubs to boost health R&D
The UK government is funding seven new virtual data-sharing hubs to help develop new treatments for diseases including cancer, Crohn’s disease and asthma.
The seven virtual research centres, which are to be rolled out from next month, will hold different types of NHS data on patients in the UK, such as prescriptions and the results of scans.
Professor Andrew Morris, director of Health Data Research UK, which is leading the initiative, said: “Today’s research is tomorrow’s treatment, and we need to use data.
“The best performing health systems internationally are characterised by whole system intelligence, tracking journeys of care of patients across primary, secondary, tertiary and now social care, but also being able to use the same data to improve and research.”
The seven hubs will separately focus on cancer, eye health, inflammatory bowel disease, acute care, clinical trials, respiratory and real-world data.
The hubs are virtual centres, but HDR UK has asked each to name a physical location where people can work together. These locations and the seven hubs’ various partners can be viewed on an interactive map.
The hubs will make patient health data more easily accessible for researchers and even have the potential to save lives, according to Science Minister Chris Skidmore.
“We will all know someone who has been through the trauma of a devastating illness, and received care and treatment through our brilliant NHS,” he said.
“The new data hubs will take the information the NHS has at its fingertips to identify patterns, speed up research and find the treatments we all hope for.”
Patients and the public will be involved in decisions about how their data will be used and accessed. HDR UK told Laboratory News that data accessed will be de-identified, except for when identifiable data is required for specific research purposes and only when explicit consent has been provided.
The hubs are part of a four-year £37 million investment from the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF), announced in November 2017.