Key figures from the UK’s NHS have met with representatives from big technology and pharmaceutical companies to discuss the potential of commercializing patients’ medical records.

The confidential ‘NHS England Health and Care Data Day’, held late last year, saw discussions around collecting patient data to improve healthcare services, how to fund the data management project and potentially share profits from it.

Alongside NHS England Chairman, Lord David Prior, Chief Executive Simon Stevens and NHSX Chief Executive, Matthew Gould were key industry figures including Amazon UK boss and British Heart Foundation Chairman Doug Gurr, Microsoft UK CEO Cindy Rose, joint Chief Executive of System C Healthcare, Markus Bolton, and Dr. Jim Weatherall, Vice President for Data Science and AI for pharma giant AstraZeneca.

Papers from the meeting organised by the Office of Life Sciences, first reported by Digital Health, estimate the NHS patient data could be valued at up to £10 billion a year.

Documents also revealed plans for a “single, standardised, event-based, longitudinal patient record” containing the data of 65 million patients, collated from GPs, hospitals, mental health professionals, demographics registers, prescription records as well as information from the private health sector.

The information would not only be used to serve the NHS, it could be used to provide companies and researchers real-time access to medical data. Commercial models discussed ranged from the NHS receiving no fees but instead “receiving a curated dataset” through to
a royalty fee and shared ownership or products based on NHS data. Under the proposed free commercial model set out in the papers, the NHS would essentially give away access to all patient data to other parties for no financial return, with the documents stating, “the NHS does
not receive a direct return but benefits indirectly through increased/better innovation in the wider healthcare system.”

In another of the proposed commercial models, the NHS would be paid a fee for handing over patient data and then be “be eligible for a discount on any product developed from the collaboration”.

All the points raised during the meeting were highlighted as discussion only, not official government policy. However, the papers speak of further planning meetings to follow.