Yes, we are positively swimming in data these days. And I don’t about you, but I’m looking forward to doing some data-linkage with family and friends over Christmas and the New Year.
From a Government point of view, making best use of the data which is routinely collected by departments, public agencies and others, linking it up and enabling researchers to interrogate it in a way which does not impinge on a citizen’s privacy, has been a big topic of conversation this year. What to do?
Well, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), together with the Medical Research Council (MRC) and Wellcome Trust, established a taskforce in 2011 to look more deeply into the subject and has just produced its report and recommendations. They propose the setting up of Administrative Data Research Centres (ADRCs) in each of the four nations of the UK, a single governance framework for them, a common approach to data storage plus some ground rules for publicly funded researchers to access the data held.
They recognise the importance of public engagement and say the overall Governance Board must have at least one lay representative and that each Centre should have a public engagement plan and resource to support it. The report is here.
Meanwhile – and I mention it because I was on the review panel – NIHR has recently announced the successful bids to set up Healthcare Technology Co-operatives (HTCs) which will work collaboratively with industry to develop new medical devices, healthcare technologies and technology-dependent interventions in clinical areas of high morbidity or unmet need. The areas covered include: chronic gastrointestinal disease, brain injury, cardiovascular disease, Devices for Dignity, wound prevention, colorectal therapies, mental health and trauma management. Full details on the NIHR website here.
You might also wish to visit the NIHR home page right now where they have also just listed the year’s achievements – an impressive list.