By Kathryn Body (WEDF, Research and Communications)
Health data provides an incredibly valuable source of information for researchers, health professionals and those looking to improve public health services. The use and sharing of this data can enable early detection of diseases through diagnosis, the development of new treatments as well as improved standards of health and wellbeing across the population. This being said, health data, in comparison to many other forms of data, can often be extremely sensitive in nature. It is therefore crucial that we have robust ethical policies and regulatory standards in place to protect people's privacy and to uphold patient confidentiality. The implications of the lack of this kind of ethical infrastructure can be very serious and profoundly damaging to people’s relationship with public health services.