UK Research and Innovation has put up £37.5 million for the creation of three to five digital innovation hubs around the UK over the next three years.
The work of the hubs will be led by Health Data Research (HDR) UK, the national institute for data science in healthcare, and focus on using data for the faster development of new treatments for diseases.
HDR UK said the hubs will provide secure and controlled environments for data and enable NHS clinicians to work with health researchers, data scientists, computer scientists, ethicists, social scientists and the public.
They will connect data from GP practices, hospitals, social and community care providers across regions of 3-5 million people. This can be used with biomedical information and other datasets for research.
HDR UK will work with the hubs to ensure the data is used ethically and responsibly. This will involve safeguards for data security and access, and transparency in how it is used and shared.
The programme is set to begin during the autumn, picking up from existing demonstrator projects to test approaches that will feed into their design.
In spring of next year HDR UK will invite regional partnerships of NHS, academia and industry to bid to establish a hub.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “These hubs will allow researchers to unlock new advances by harnessing the huge potential of data so the NHS will continue to lead the way in technology that improves patient care, makes taxpayers’ money go further and lessens the workload for staff.”
HDR UK already runs centres of excellence that use healthcare data in working with universities and NHS partners.
Its director, Professor Andrew Morris, said: “We know from international research that the best performing health systems in terms of patient safety and quality of care are research and data enabled. We expect the creation of digital innovation hubs will help deliver direct benefits to the NHS and 65 million citizens of the UK.”
UK Research and Innovation is a non-departmental public body funded by the Government.
Image by Termininja, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons