Using medical data may help improve public health services and help identify patterns of disease, which could lead to more effective practices for prevention. Our head of clinical ethics and data, Dr Jon Fistein, argues that we should say more about these benefits.
It is widely recognised that routinely-collected health data can be used to improve the healthcare provided to individuals and to communities. The US Institute of Medicine champions the ‘learning healthcare system’ in which routinely-collected data are used to drive better, more efficient medical practice and patient care. Indeed, many argue that such uses of data are the only ways to improve services, reduce waste and make health service provision sustainable.