HDR UK Use Case – Secure Access to Large Scale Data in Healthcare


Health Data Research UK (HDR UK) is the UK’s national institute for health data science. Their mission is to unite the UK’s healthcare data to enable discoveries that improve people’s lives. We do this by uniting, improving, and using health and care data as one national institute. Their vision is that every health interaction and research endeavour will be enhanced by secure access to large scale data and advanced analytics.

Health Data Research UK (HDR UK) is the national health data science institute and was established in 2017. As part of their work to unite the UK’s health data to enable discoveries to improve people’s lives, HDR UK has developed the Innovation Gateway. Launched in 2020 this web platform enables secure access to discover and leverage existing data sets and accelerate research.

Secure Access to Large Scale Data in Healthcare - Healthcare Data Engineering

THE CHALLENGE  | Researchers had Difficulty Finding the most Appropriate Datasets

Health Data Research UK (HDR UK) were seeking to make it easier on their Innovation Gateway for: 1) Researchers to identify datasets that meet their needs; and 2) for Data Custodians to understand what information is needed to support that, and how to provide it in a simple manner. At that time the metadata specification had been applied to over 650 datasets across 40 data custodians, all discoverable through www.healthdatagateway.org

HDR UK turned to industry experts in data discovery and data engineering to implement Metadata Onboarding and Process improvements for the Gateway. Data Engineering specialists Anaeko with our partner specialising in healthcare research, Digital Care Systems (DCS), were selected by HDR UK for a compelling combination of data engineering and healthcare expertise.

THE SOLUTION   | Improved Data Discovery on the Innovation Gateway

Anaeko and DCS Business and Data Analysts, working as one-team with HDR UK’s Executive Director of Data Improvement and Data Improvement team, engaged with stakeholders to assess their current and future needs against the existing Metadata specification, associated Weighted Quality Score, and the dataset onboarding process. We reviewed the existing platform including data utilities, search and filtering capabilities and proposed a set of wide-ranging improvements, based on our stakeholder research. We socialised these with stakeholders, gained approval, and implemented changes to existing specifications.

THE RESULTS   | Enhanced Gateway Adoption from Improved User Experience

There is continued rapid uptake from Data Custodians with 856 datasets now registered (November 2023) and thousands of searches per month across datasets. The improvements made to the metadata definition and quality (weighted across four categories), onboarding and search processes have contributed to the evolution and continued adoption of HDR UK’s Innovation Gateway.

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