NHS/Google Data sharing – the story of a broken data sharing system?

Many of you will be aware of the news that Google were given access to healthcare data of up to 1.6 million patients, the encrypted data was shared under an NHS data sharing agreement for the purposes of using google ‘deepmind’ to predict and flag patient risks of kidney failure.

There is nothing unusual about a data sharing agreement using personal data for research, it is a routine occurrence. However, because it is Google, because the data is so large and so comprehensive, news editors are not treating this as routine. In the context of this news story David Evans, BCS Director of Policy and Community, has blogged about the fundamental problems that could stop us from realising the benefits of data for our health and wellbeing.

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Gareth Baxendale FBCS CITP

...a boffin armed with a swimming certificate. Having achieved my long sort-after swimming certificate by age 7 (a proud day), I went on to gain yet more learning, experience and wisdom... oddly, swimming as a skill has not been a requirement of any of my roles to date... I remain hopeful. Despite my dashing young looks, I have 20 years in B2B, B2C and Health developing strategy, designing and architecting IT solutions, both locally and cloud based, as well as managing the supply of doughnuts and coffee to large development, infrastructure and service delivery teams. Few headlines... • • FBCS CITP Chartered Fellow • • Vice Chair for the BCS Health Executive focusing on improving Health Informatics across the health sector • • Writer for The Guardian, Wired.com, Computing.co.uk, ITNow, DigitalHealth, Section Editor Journal of Innovation in Health Informatics • • Medalist UK IT Industry Awards 'IT Department of the Year'​ - Computing/BCS • • Team achieved NCC ITDA Accreditation standard • • BCS Chartered Assessor & Mentor • • SFIA® Framework Reviewer • • UKCHIP Level 3 Health Informatics • • TOGAF® 9 Level 2 Enterprise Architecture • • ITIL® Expert Service Management • • PRINCE2 Certified • • Microsoft Certified Engineer/Architect levels I currently work for the National Institute for Health Research managing the Information Services and Service Delivery function that enables IT services for the NHS Clinical Research Network. With a key focus on Informatics and clinical trial adoption we support over 10,000 users in the NHS and Industry Pharma. I lead the devops/service management teams and am responsible for the technology architecture, design and delivery both locally and for cloud services with Amazon Web Services working alongside our partner PA Consulting. Previously I have supported B2B B2C IT companies from SME's to NASDAQ enterprises, and also in the mutual sector managing IT for a large healthcare organisation supporting over 900,000 members.

1 Response

  1. One of the main issues of Information Sharing Agreements in general is that very few actually specify what is prohibited and how breaches will be handled. This lack of consideration towards incident response before an agreement is signed is concerning because if you don’t know how a 3rd party will react when things go wrong, how can you be sure that your data is really secure?

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