PRSB responds to the ‘Better, broader, safer: using health data for research and analysis’ report

The PRSB welcomes the findings and recommendations of the ‘Better, broader, safer’ report, led by Professor Ben Goldacre, to review how health data is used for research and analysis and how this can be improved to benefit patient outcomes and the healthcare sector more broadly.

‘Better, broader safer’ recommends the building of a number of ‘Trusted Research Environments’ (TREs) as single, secure platforms from which patient data can be accessed for analysis, and the PRSB is pleased to see that the review recommends the implementation of standards for new TREs in order to make data structured, coherent and ‘analysis-ready’. Other key recommendations include the creation of ‘Reproducible Analytical Pipelines’ to act as guidance for producing high quality data analysis, encouraging open working for all NHS data analysis through use of a shared library of data analysis tools and the need for UKRI/NIHR to research methods into privacy preservation for the wide use of NHS patient records. The report’s advice that opportunities for data analysts should be improved through modernising career development is also a welcome idea.

The PRSB is glad that the review can clearly see the importance of information standards in achieving its aims, with the need to structure and standardise data properly for it to be used in the innovative research capacities the report identifies. The lack of insight into social care, however, is a critical omission and equal attention should be given to how data held by social care providers can be better used to improve outcomes and the work of care professionals.  

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