Trust takes time. But a data-driven digital healthcare system isn’t possible without it

The NHS needs to find a way to put privacy first to build trust with the public around its innovation plans, explains Nigel Jones, co-founder of the Privacy Compliance Hub.

A lack of trust

It’s often said the NHS is sitting on a goldmine of data, with medical records that cover the lifespans of 55 million people. But actually putting it to good use – to research and improve patient monitoring, and develop new treatments, for example – has been a real challenge. Health leaders talk about legacy technology systems, silos that aren’t easy to connect, and the millions of pounds of investment they feel they can’t afford.

The potential for innovation

Why is this such a hard problem for the UK to solve? Certainly, other countries seem to have navigated these waters with more success. In Denmark, the Danish Health Data Authority has 300 statisticians, epidemiologists, and economists analysing aggregated population data. It’s led to improvements in cancer care and expanded the remit of health research, with hospitals able to reduce the number of outpatient visits by 75%.

The power of privacy

The potential for the responsible sharing of data to revolutionise a healthcare system is well established. But NHS England has to start by building trust with the British public. And to do that, privacy must be at the centre of the conversation.

About the author

Nigel Jones

Nigel Jones is the co-founder of The Privacy Compliance Hub, a no-nonsense platform created by two ex-Google lawyers that makes compliance easy for everyone to understand and commit to.

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