UK's NHS sitting on patient record gold mine worth billions - report


Patient records held by the UK’s NHS may be worth several billion pounds to commercial organisations, according to a new report.

The Ernst and Young (EY) report noted that the NHS is in a unique position as the single largest integrated health care provider in the world.

The NHS patient records cover the entire UK population from birth to death, with around 55 million patient records held in total.

This current value of the patient data could be as much as £5 billion per annum, and could deliver around £4.6 billion in benefits each year, according to the report entitled How can we place a value on health care data?

This includes potential operational savings for the NHS, enhanced patient outcomes, and wider economic benefits to the UK.

EY said that several billion pounds could be generated by selling NHS data at market value – this includes the 55 million primary care records, 23 million records from episodic care, and the 100,000 DNA codes of patients with cancer, rare diseases, and infectious diseases, gathered by Genomics England.

The report suggested a framework for the NHS to harness the patient data in an ethical manner, where the NHS remains controller of the patient data, which is not sold or transferred to a third party.

The report noted that there are no universal digital standards in the health industry, adding that the variety and volume of data being generated is huge.

In the absence of a comprehensive infrastructure, more limited individual arrangements have started to appear.

Health and life sciences organisations will need to consider how their products and services will align with the emerging data infrastructure.

The British AI technology company, Sensyne Health, welcomed the report, noting that it is an early signatory to the government’s code of conduct on data-driven health and care technology.

Lord Drayson, CEO of Sensyne Health plc, said: “Data driven innovation will transform how healthcare is delivered in future. The quality and scale of NHS data, covering a population of over 50 million people from birth to death, provides the UK with a major competitive advantage and is a very valuable national asset.

“Enlightened policy that encourages ethical and fair collaborations between the NHS and the life sciences industry that use NHS data, could help to fund NHS services in future, as well as significantly improving the quality and affordability of care for patients.”

Sensyne Health is involved with a collaboration between Oxford University and German biotech Evotech, working to translate research into new AI drug discovery and digital health firms.