NHS Digital inks deal with Privitar to protect patient info in the NHS system

NHS Digital inked a deal with privacy engineering software provider Privitar to up its game in protecting NHS patient information. (Pixabay)

NHS Digital, which provides information, data and IT services for the U.K.’s National Health Service, inked a deal with privacy engineering software provider Privitar to up its game in protecting patient information.

Under the agreement, Privitar will deliver a new software solution for deidentifying patient data used throughout the NHS and social care system. It unlinks a person’s records in a consistent manner.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

“Instead of each individual NHS team managing their own de-identification processes, De-ID provides an automated and standardized way of removing the identifying values in a patient record across all data collections, allowing data to be linked across different care settings,” Tom Denwood, NHS Digital’s head of data, insights and statistics, said in a statement. "It’s not only more efficient; enabling us to safely produce useful data for research and analysis, but it’s also transparent, so we can improve tracking and auditing of how data is used across the system.”

Late last year, the U.K. earmarked $27 million to a cybersecurity unit tasked with preventing the recurrence of hacks that knocked medical devices offline earlier in the year by the WannaCry ransomware attack. The money was to be used to hire ethical hackers to break into NHS computer systems and fix the vulnerabilities they expose.

At the time, officials said they would be looking at other ways to beef up their cybersecurity and the contract with Privitar looks to be part of that effort.