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NHS Digital signs for de-identifier solution



Health service’s ICT organisation agrees deal to develop Privitar software for De-ID process

NHS Digital has signed a contract to use a software solution for the de-identification of patient information in the health service and social care.

It has agreed to work with privacy engineering company Privitar on developing its existing solution for use in the NHS under a process named De-ID. It said the solution involves the removal or encryption of possible identifiers in the data and will make it possible to prevent a person's identity from being connected with their information.

The roll out is scheduled to begin next year and will run in increments throughout the services.

NHS Digital said that De-ID will protect patient privacy and that, with the right legal basis, controls and safeguards in place, enable the linking of data across different care settings and geographic boundaries.

Improve care

The organisation’s executive director of data, insights and statistics Tom Denwood 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. 

“After a rigorous tender process, we chose to work with Privitar because of their commercial and industry experience, as well as their strong ethical values. We’re very much looking forward to together leading the protection of patient data.”

Image: Simon Waldherr, Creative Commons through Wikimedia

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