Before the end of the year, medical research and patient data will be just a click away for British scientists with the impending launch of four ehealth research centers across the U.K. The hope is that the new initiative will lead to quicker medical and drug discoveries as well as improved safety of meds.
Funded by a group of 10 British charities and regulators, the coined Centers of Excellence will use electronic health records to research common diseases affecting the U.K. population, such as obesity and diabetes, according to the Medical Research Council (MRC). The centers springboards off the National Health Service's £60 million ($94 million) Clinical Practice Research Datalink service, which gives researchers unprecedented access to clinical data and patient information collected through the British healthcare system by general practitioners going back to 1987. With all that material readily at hand, researchers hope to identify better treatments, improve drug safety and better understand the causes of disease.
"The way in which the partner [organizations] have come together to invest in ehealth underpins its importance and will help establish the U.K. as a world leader in this field," said MRC CEO Sir John Savill, in a statement.
The centers' success rests with the public and their willingness to divulge sensitive--but anonymous--medical information for the sake of research. So, in an effort to engage patients, the centers will actively promote ehealth record research benefits to encourage disclosure, according to the MRC.
The Centers of Excellence will open in London, Manchester, Dundee and Swansea.