Success of future health systems hinges on access to data, say experts

By Rebecca Bazeley

16 October 2016


An international group of population health experts is calling for sharing of health data to be the norm if precision health agendas are to succeed and build sustainable health systems.

The signatories – from UK, Italy, Belgium, Hungary, Canada and the United States – note that people and patients across the world are being let down by the slow, evolutionary pace of change in health systems that fails to keep pace with massive advances in digital and genome-based technologies.

In their statement Paths to precision health: act now published today, the signatories urge for active leadership to address this major obstacle to the success of precision health agendas and to harness new technologies to drive the public’s participation in its health

Gathering in Cambridge, UK at a summit hosted by Dr Ron Zimmern (Chairman, PHG Foundation), the signatories urged governments to take revolutionary and disruptive action that will make sharing personal health data an accepted civic responsibility for all citizens.

The vision set out in the statement is for a new reciprocal model for health in which the silos between public health and clinical medicine are removed and the emphasis is on prevention and health over treatment and cure. In this model citizens will be expected to ‘pay forward’ by contributing their genetic and medical data as “an investment in the country’s path to health”.  

Specifically, Paths to precision health: act now urges the freeing of data and engagement of citizens to make available to researchers and clinicians standardised, comprehensive and diverse health-related data as a matter of urgency.

Dr Ron Zimmern, Chair, PHG Foundation said:

Data and information will be critical to the development of precision healthcare. Sharing data as the norm and ensuring that the entire health system works together will require a radical reorganisation. Evolutionary change will not suffice. We must embrace a more radical agenda to make these changes happen”.

Media enquiries on this press release should contact Rebecca Bazeley


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