Study helps public sector meet standards in large-scale data sharing

Study helps public sector meet standards in large-scale data sharing

Think tank Reform has issued a series of new recommendations about how public sector organisations can adhere to standards in large-scale data sharing.

Particularly since the entry into force of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), strong standards have been introduced around Europe governing how personal data is stored, secured, processed and transmitted. However, this has posed challenges for companies engaging in large-scale data sharing activities, especially between healthcare authorities.

In the UK, the exchange of data between GPs and hospitals enabled early identification of patients who were at risk of being admitted to hospital, which ultimately led to a reduction of hospital admissions in some areas by up to 30%.

What can be done to enable the better exchange of personal data within the required standards?

Public sector organisations face a series of challenges in trying to share data effectively. These challenges include interoperability, with many government departments using legacy systems which are incompatible with each other and with other departments. In its report, Reform recommends that governments make open standards a mandatory requirement of new public sector IT systems, and that a secure system is built which can transmit data between organisations securely.

This also means ensuring that organisations collect the right type of data, in a consistent format, which will increase its overall quality. Reform proposes the creation of a set of minimum standards for accurate and well-maintained datasets, for which public sector bodies would have to qualify, to ensure efficient and accurate transmission of data.

Beyond the technical challenges that must be addressed, the report suggests that leadership is needed to help public sector organisations to navigate the requirements of the GDPR. It calls for local data sharing agreements which could act as pilots for large-scale data sharing agreements and develop elements of best practice which could be shared on a wider European scale.

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