Information Governance to create patient-level linked data sets with DARS sign-off from NHS Digital

The first CSU in the country to achieve a nationally approved information governance solution to enable data integration across STPs, ICSs and vanguards.

The challenge

SCW conducted a comprehensive IG compliance review for the Symphony PACS Vanguard data set in South Somerset. Because of our scale, we were able to use an independent IG team that had not been involved in the initial development project, and whose role was to critically review and confirm legal compliance for the project. They were also tasked to provide clarity on information ownership, access, safeguards, and privacy impact assessment processes. The ultimate aim of the review was to establish the legal basis on which GPs would share patient data for use in the Symphony database; how SCW would link GP data with SUS and Social Care data; and whether underlying data flow, information sharing agreements, and privacy impact assessments where appropriate. The final report confirmed compliance and recommended additional work and a regular review program to ensure the system remained compliant as the project continued and extended in scope.

The approach

Working in conjunction with the national New Models of Care (NMOC) IG lead, we supported Somerset as an IG test site for NHS Digital’s Data Access Request Service (DARS) process. In December 2016, Dr. Geraint Lewis from NHS Digital visited Somerset to run a workshop with key stakeholders. In January 2017, we supported Somerset to complete an NHS Digital IG Audit where Symphony data was a key area of scrutiny. As part of that process, we facilitated a full-day workshop in Leeds between NHS Digital, NHS England’s NMOC team, and representatives from Somerset and SCW to validate the application and associated IG plans.

The result

Our Symphony data analysts and in-house data management leads have worked with NHS Digital to develop a DARS-compliant framework for integrated data. These proposals went for NHS Digital IGUARD approval in March 2017 and SCW was the first integrated data proposal in the country to receive approval. NHS Digital has subsequently shared our IG solution widely.

Where a direct clinical care need is identified and clinically appropriate, a process to re-identify patient-specific pseudonymized data is possible across the STP, which includes both acute and GP data.

The data sharing solution provides ‘one version of the truth’ for all STP partners to view and use to support system-wide analytics, population health management, and service planning.

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