The UK has a wealth of electronic health record data. This data is used by researchers in a multitude of ways, including studying the COVID-19 pandemic, understanding disease and improving the many services the NHS provides.
Because data is generated and held in many places, highly secure computer environments – called trusted research environments (TREs) – have been developed to store data coming from the NHS and other public organisations and make it securely available to approved researchers for projects in the public benefit.
Often, researchers want to study data stored in different TREs across the whole of the UK. One way of bringing this data together is called data federation – a process that has very specific approvals associated with it. The TELEPORT project will explore how to make data federation much simpler, but just as safe and secure as accessing data in a single location, by automating the federation process.
A new novel model of ‘pop-up TREs’ will be demonstrated by federating health data from Wales and Scotland. A key part of this work will be to explore how similar but different approvals processes can be brought together so that the data controllers – the people who are ultimately responsible for the data – can have the confidence it is being used appropriately and securely by researchers and in line with the uses they have approved.
Principal investigator: Professor Simon Thompson, Swansea University
Project partners: Swansea University, University of Edinburgh, Public Health Scotland
Funded amount: £462,933