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UK AI project aims to make international health data sharing easier

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A British University is to explore the use of AI to improve sharing health data internationally as part of a European-wide project.

Called BETTER (Better real-world health data distributed analytics research platform) project the spans 16 academic, medical and industrial partners, with Aston University awarded €317,500 (£272,600) for its contribution.

While data-driven medicine is currently used to improve diagnosis, treatment and medical research, ethical, legal and privacy issues can prevent sharing and centralising data for analysis.

Aston University’s involvement in the BETTER project aims to overcome these challenges so that health data can be shared across national borders while fully complying with the general data protection regulation (GDPR) guidelines.

The university’s research will be led by Dr Sergei Sokolovski of the Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies.

The researcher said: “Data protection regulations prohibit data centralisation for analysis purposes because of privacy risks like the accidental disclosure of personal data to third parties.

“Therefore, to enable health data sharing across national borders and to fully comply with GDPR guidelines this project proposes a robust decentralised infrastructure which will empower researchers, innovators and healthcare professionals to exploit the full potential of larger sets of multi-source health data.

Dr Sergei Sokolovski will lead the development of a secure data sharing system which will enable access to large sets of multi-source health data via tailor-made AI tools.

Scientists and healthcare professionals will be able to compare, integrate and analyse data securely at a lower cost than current methods in an effort to improve people’s health.

The BETTER project will focus on three health conditions; childhood learning disabilities, inherited degenerative retina diseases and autism, and will involve seven medical centres across the European Union and beyond.

Dr Sokolovski said: “As healthcare continues to evolve in an increasingly data-driven world projects like BETTER offer promising solutions to the challenges of health data sharing, research collaboration, and ultimately, improving the well-being of citizens worldwide.

“The collaboration between multiple stakeholders, including medical centres, researchers, and innovators, highlights the importance of interdisciplinary efforts in addressing these complex issues.”

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