Digi.me is now in the final stages of integrating with the first GP system suppliers in the NHS
Having worked across a number of health economies, what is becoming increasingly apparent is the differences in attitudes, cultures and approaches to sharing data.
In the US, for example, regulation requires healthcare providers to make individuals’ data available to them not only via portals and data downloads but also via the programming interfaces known as APIs.
Europe, on the other hand, is interesting because while the new and wide-ranging GDPR data protection legislation protection requires data portability and the right of access in an electronic format, it doesn’t specify that this should be via an API.
The reliance of many traditional healthcare providers on portals and data downloads has left them in a difficult spot when it comes to scalability and their duty of data towards their patients.
Estimates already put the cost of operating data access requests in the tens of millions, and this will only increase as more individuals become aware of, and want to access, their personal data rights.
One key challenge is that data downloads push the burden of privacy and responsibility for securing sensitive information on to patients, as well as limiting the portability and reuse of data. This is bad for patients, but also bad for healthcare.
Currently, API restrictions are limiting progress in the UK. In the US, the programmatic API capabilities have been openly published, but the health services of many countries, including the NHS in England, do not do this. Here, these are firewalled away not only technically, but also behind multiple layers of people, politics and process.
This creates enormous barriers to 3rd party organisations wanting to innovate with personal data and integrate and provide patient facing services. And it is currently an insurmountable challenge for patients and their carers wanting to make use of their data for research or treatment purposes.
But work in this area is progressing. Digi.me, for example, has already been working extensively in the US integrating with the major Electronic Health Record (EHR) system vendors including Epic and Cerner. It is now in the final stages of integrating with the first GP system suppliers in the NHS.
Digi.me’s app enables individuals to download their health data to a secure personal library which they own and control, then share this with the apps and services they choose.
This is highly effective for organisations needing a simple, secure and low-cost means to give data back to individuals, either via an API or the “post box” drop-off service. Once individuals have their data, 3rd parties can ask for consented access to slices of it using our API. Importantly, digi.me me never sees, touches or holds any individual data.
This easy aggregation of data creates a profound paradigm shift. Developers and integrators who have historically struggled to integrate with healthcare services such as the NHS can now do so easily, quickly gaining access to richer, wider and longitudinal health data via a fully-permissioned and normalised API.
The removal of a problem that has taken suppliers many months, and in some cases years, to overcome now means developers can focus on the value proposition of their app, as well as the user experience, and take their solutions direct to market.
This in turn means that the health industry can rapidly prototype and develop solutions to test and prove new ideas without a significant financial burden. Once proven to work, these health solutions and innovations will scale not only within the NHS but also to health economies around the world.
This paradigm-changing approach is set to revolutionise the way we think about the use of personal data in healthcare data. It will empower patients and catalyse innovation and research.
Digi.me is now in the final stages of testing with the NHS in preparation for launching in England, and is actively seeking partners to establish a UK hub of innovators to be exemplars in the personal data innovation space.
Whether app developers, system integrators, consultants or healthcare providers – we want to hear from you. Join us to help empower patients with their health data.