Intended for healthcare professionals


Using patient data for patients’ benefit

BMJ 2017; 358 doi: (Published 29 September 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;358:j4413
  1. Amitava Banerjee, senior clinical lecturer1,
  2. David Mathew, patient and public panel member2,
  3. Katherine Rouane, patient3
  1. 1University College London, London, UK
  2. 2University of Bedfordshire, Luton, UK
  3. 3London, UK
  1. Correspondence to: A Banerjee ami.banerjee{at}

Full partnership will help ensure that data really does save lives

The #datasaveslives campaign underlines the importance of health informatics research to public health.1There are many examples of “data driven” healthcare across the UK and elsewhere, such as increased use of machine learning in early diagnosis of tumours and automated risk prediction tools for cardiovascular disease built into electronic health records (EHR). Innovations are often labelled as “personalised” and “patient centred,”234 but since all health data are personal and about patients, what does the terminology actually mean, and do these innovations benefit patients?

Routine healthcare data worldwide are designed for delivering care. Information from patients or health professionals may be recorded in written, spoken, or electronic formats, depending on the setting. Electronic health data come from a diverse range of sources, including health management information systems, disease surveillance, registries, hospital coding systems, pharmacies, laboratories, questionnaires, government coding systems, insurance claims databases, social media platforms, and other third parties such as mobile phone companies.

From banking and online shopping to booking holidays, other sectors are well …

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