NHS Digital launches new software to protect patient data

NHS Digital has entered into a partnership with a privacy engineering company to improve the way data is used across the organisation and social care.

NHS Digital will work with Privitar to deploy a new software solution for preventing patients’ identities being connected with their information.

The new de-identification process (De-ID) will protect patient privacy by de-identifying a person’s records in a consistent way. This will mean that data can be linked across different care settings and geographic boundaries without any risk to patient privacy.

NHS Digital states that this will help improve health and care services through research and planning, ultimately leading to better individual care.

NHS Digital’s executive director of Data, Insights and Statistics Tom Denwood said: “The health and care landscape is rapidly changing, and we can improve individual patient care if our systems can deliver a complete picture of their health and care. Although we already use various ways of de-identifying data across the NHS, the difference with De-ID is that it provides one, consistent way of doing this.

“So instead of each individual NHS team managing their own de-identification processes, De-ID provides an automated and standardised way of removing the identifying values in a patient record across all data collections, allowing data to be linked across different care settings.

“It’s not only more efficient; enabling us to safely produce useful data for research and analysis, but it’s also transparent, so we can improve tracking and auditing of how data is used across the system.

“After a rigorous tender process, we chose to work with Privitar because of their commercial and industry experience, as well as their strong ethical values. We’re very much looking forward to together leading the protection of patient data.”

Privitar will not be handling or processing any personal data as part of its client work.

CEO of Privitar Jason du Preez said: “Privitar specialises in privacy engineering software that enables organisations to provide data for advanced analytics and data science with respect for individual privacy and compliance with regulation.

“Our business was borne out of a realisation that the effective use of data can improve our lives in so many ways, but that this must be done with rigor and respect for individuals to ensure a sustained, high-quality flow of information into the data ecosystem.”


Reece Armstrong is a reporter for Digital Health Age. Coming from the North East of England, Reece has an MA in Media & Journalism and a BA in Popular & Contemporary Music from Newcastle University. Reach him on Twitter or email via: reece.armstrong@rapidnews.com

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