New software solution for the de-identification of patient information

NHS Digital has signed a contract to improve the way that data is used across the NHS and social care by introducing a new software solution for the de-identification of patient information.

The new de-identification process, known as De-ID, prevents a person's identity from being connected with their information and will protect patient privacy by de-identifying a person’s records in a consistent way, meaning that data can be linked across different care settings and geographic boundaries. This should lead to better individual care.

Tom Denwood, executive director of Data, Insights and Statistics at NHS Digital, said: “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. 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. It’s not only more efficient; enabling us to safely produce useful data for research and analysis, but it’s also transparent, so we can improve tracking and auditing of how data is used across the system.”

The contract has been signed with Privitar, a company which licences software products that employ leading privacy enhancing techniques.

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