Released: The Open Data Era in Health and Social Care

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NHS England and The GovLab at New York University have jointly created a blueprint – The Open Data Era in Health and Social Care – to accelerate the use of open data in healthcare settings.

The blueprint suggests ways to enable a conversation about how the health and care system can maximize the impact of sharing open data through establishing priorities and clear ways of measuring benefits.

Background: The United Kingdom is already a globally recognized leader in the use of data for improving the delivery of health and social care. In recent years, The NHS in England has moved actively to open access to the vast repositories of information used across its many agencies and departments. NHS England recognizes the immense potential, given proper safeguards, of making such anonymized, aggregated data available to patients, citizens and researchers.

The Value of Open Data: The blueprint suggests a framework to review the potential for open data in:

  • Holding healthcare organizations and providers accountable for treatment outcomes.
  • Enabling patients to make informed choices from among the healthcare options available to them.
  • Improving the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of delivering healthcare.
  • Improving treatment outcomes.
  • Educating patients and their families and make healthcare institutions more responsive.
  • Fueling new healthcare companies and innovation.

Need for Evidence: For all the recognition of open data’s potential, there is an urgent need for more research and actionable evidence to help guide investments and priorities. This blueprint represents a framework for a conversation on how NHS England can develop an evidence-based program to guide the investments and further research into the benefits of open data.

Focus Areas: Among the specific issues that the blueprint may inform:

  • What kinds of evidence can we gather to help measure the impact of open data?
  • What methodologies are most effective at gathering actionable evidence?
  • How can we use evidence to differentiate and prioritize among various open data initiatives?
  • What steps are required to create an environment within which data is used to constantly generate and refresh information and learning?

Programs that last and deliver real value may start from the seed of an interesting new idea, but they get strength and staying power only when they are truly evidence-based and evidence-adjusted. The goal of this new blueprint is to help design such long-lasting and truly valuable programs.

Summary and Presentation of Findings




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We encourage discussion and additional insights from interested readers. We welcome comments and suggestions in the forum below, and look forward to incorporating them into a subsequent version of the report.

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