Forum: Big data & healthcare
Care.data will be a giant database of medical records which will link information across all health and care services in England. This will enable researchers to develop new treatments and provide a new means of assessing and comparing the performance of NHS services and interventions nationwide. The information will include details of patient demographics, symptoms and investigations, diagnoses and treatments to give a complete picture of an individual's care experiences across primary and secondary care.
The project was initially intended to be rolled out at the beginning of 2014; however, concerns about patient consent, data security and a perceived lack of public awareness have meant that the implementation date has been pushed back to autumn 2014. This demonstrates the importance of public engagement and education campaigns before embarking on large data-sharing initiatives.
Once the information has been linked, it will be used to improve the quality of care provided, to tailor services to local needs, and to ensure resources are allocated appropriately. This will allow the identification of best practice and highlight areas where improvements are needed which will help to raise standards of care across the country.