Trust joins UK Heath Data Research Alliance

Imperial College Healthcare is one of four new organisations to join the UK Health Data Research Alliance, which works to create a unified approach to the use of health data across the UK.

The UK Health Data Research Alliance (UKHDRA) is an independent consortium of leading healthcare and research organisations united to establish best practice for the ethical use of UK health data for research at scale. Among its current members are NHS England and NHS Digital, as well as various NHS trusts across the country, charities and royal colleges.  

By joining the alliance, the Trust will benefit from working with partners across the sector by sharing learnings around the use of health data and driving best practice. Joining the alliance demonstrates a commitment to open access for health data for research and increases the number of datasets available; ultimately leading to discoveries that will benefit patients.

In formalising this relationship, the Trust can also capitalise on existing investment and build upon digital health research already undertaken through the NIHR Imperial Biomedical Research Centre (BRC). The BRC provides infrastructure to conduct early stage experimental medicine within our Academic Health Science Centre, exploiting the scientific power of the College faculties to address unmet patient needs.

Erik Mayer, Transformation CCIO for Analytics & Informatics, Imperial College Healthcare said: "I am delighted that Imperial College Healthcare is joining the UK HDR Alliance and we look forward to actively contributing, across several initiatives, towards the alliance’s shared vision of establishing and demonstrating best practice in the ethical use of healthcare data to benefit patients, carers and the public."

Alliance members develop and coordinate the adoption of tools, techniques and technologies across five priority areas:

- Promoting participation and improving access
- Aligning approaches to Trusted Research Environments
- Data Standards and Quality
- Engaging practitioners, patients, and the public
- Supporting the development of the HDR Innovation Gateway (“The Gateway”)

In the coming months, the Trust will also work with partners to make Imperial College Healthcare datasets available to be listed on the Gateway, the UK’s unified platform to discover and access health data. Gateway provides detailed information for researchers about the datasets it holds, as well as guidance on the ethical and legal basis for accessing health data.

Alongside Imperial College Healthcare, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, The Renal Association and QResearch are all becoming members, demonstrating the value the partnership is providing in bringing the UK health research sector together to establish best practice around the access and use of health data for research and innovation.

The alliance aims to develop and co-ordinate the adoption of tools, techniques, conventions, technologies, and designs that enable the use of health data in a trustworthy and ethical way for research and innovation. By combining expertise and a shared commitment to work collaboratively, members are helping researchers to answer some of the most difficult questions and address the most important health challenges faced in the UK.