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NHS Digital to create a 'de-identification' system to protect data shared across healthcare

Privacy firm Privitar will implement De-ID within NHS Digital

The NHS will implement ade-identification solution to help it share patient information across the organisation and social services, it has revealed.

De-ID will allow data to be shared across services without an identity being attached to the individual data record, both improving the services the NHS can provide and ensuring sensitive data is protected from falling into the wrong hands.

It works by separating the individual's identity from their personal information, so it can be shared with other healthcare organisations, whether they're in the same geographical area or in a completely different region. The technology will be delivered by London-based private engineering firm Privitar, which specialises in improving data protection practices for companies processing user information.

"The health and care landscape is rapidly changing, and we can improve individual patient care if our systems can deliver a complete picture of their health and care," said Tom Denwood, NHS Digital's executive director of Data, Insights and Statistics.

"Although we already use various ways of de-identifying data across the NHS, the difference with De-ID is that it provides one, consistent way of doing this.So instead of each individual NHS team managing their own de-identification processes, De-ID provides an automated and standardised way of removing the identifying values in a patient record across all data collections, allowing data to be linked across different care settings."

The NHS will work closely with Privitar to implement the security software solution.NHS Digital explained it chose Privitar's implementation because of its commercial and industry experience. Denwood also explained its ethical values made it a strong competitor too.

"Our business was borne out of a realisation that the effective use of data can improve our lives in so many ways, but that this must be done with rigor and respect for individuals to ensure a sustained, high-quality flow of information into the data ecosystem,"CEO of Privitar Jason du Preez said.

The announcement follows a 1.5 million commitment by NHS Digital to support projects designed to improve data sharing between NHS departments and social care organisations, although this is aimed at local authorities and academics.

Image: Shutterstock

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