The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) has revealed plans to launch a secure data lab for viewing sensitive patient information in March this year.
According to eHealth news publication EHI, the new hub will allow the Centre to support the pathfinder stage of NHS England’s care.data information sharing scheme.
Four separate but not exclusive options are being considered, one of which is a physical facility in Leeds.
Another option is a partnership across two or more organisations to provide a network of secure data facilities where data remains in the HSCIC but can be accessed from these secure settings.
Secure remote access and a public and open data system allowing people to look at anonymised information are also being considered.
The organisation’s chief executive Andy Williams claimed HSCIC was working on plans for a secure data lab that would allow organisations to view sensitive patient data in a sealed environment rather than sending it out to them.
It is understood that the solutions will be placed before an expert reference group of researchers, charities, state, patient representatives and commissioning bodies to help “flesh them out.”
However, it is not yet clear whether the lab is set to become the only way to view such information or whether some organisation will still have it sent to them.
“It’s a really tricky one: some people say we really ought to only use a data lab service and some people say that’s a little bit inhibitive, but we know it needs to feature in some way,” claimed Williams.
He added that there will be a consultation process that will help draw the line on “is it for all, or is it for some?”
“There will be tight regulations in place to ensure that any resulting analysis which is taken away in anonymised form,” claimed HSCIC.
“We are committed to taking the time necessary to ensure that we take all the feedback we have received into account so that any new data access arrangements can be properly used to achieve improvements in health and social care for all while protecting patient confidentiality,” it added.